“XX” – the all-female helmed horror anthology that should not be missed!
Every now and then we like to talk about horror films outside of the Universal Monsters banner. This week sees the release of XX from Magnet and XYZ. In a spotlight on the film by Brian Truitt, of USA Today, he opened with a quote by Bela Lugosi – “Women are born with horror in their bloodstream.” Almost 90 years later after it was said, The Count’s words have never been more true. XX, you see, is an all-female helmed horror anthology that, as the poster declares, is a film consisting of “four deadly tales by four killer women.”
XX is directed by Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body), Roxanne Benjamin (Southbound), Jovanka Vuckovic (The Captured Bird), and Annie Clark, better known as the singer-songwriter St. Vincent. The concept came from producer Todd Brown and was refined by Jovanka Vuckovic, who also is the former editor of “Rue Morgue” magazine. Brown had the idea of a female led movie and as Vuckovic put it, “He knew being a white man, he couldn’t be the face of this.” Vuckovic then assembled the creative team with the aim to celebrate the horror genre through the talent of “four killer women.”
The “four deadly tales” of XX excitingly range from a monster movie, a satanic occult drama, and even a black comedy. XX begins with Jovanka Vuckovic’s “The Box,” which is based on a story by Jack Ketchum. It tells the story of a family, a stranger, and a mysteriously haunting box. Vuckovic’s “The Box” is then followed by Annie Clark’s “The Birthday Party.” The musician turned filmmaker makes her directorial debut with a story about a mother, her daughter’s birthday, and a suicide. This has consistently been thought of as one of the best entries in XX, especially due to Clark’s “wonderful irreverence and pitch-black sense of humor.” Following “The Box” is probably the darkest installments that find Roxanne Benjamin telling an Evil Dead-esque story called “Don’t Fall,” and Karyn Kusama delivering a Rosemary’s Baby styled psychological drama, “Her Only Living Son.”
The horror anthology is a major staple in the storytelling medium, be it in print or on camera. From “Eerie” to The Twilight Zone to George A. Romero’s Creepshow (not to mention my personal favorite, Tales from the Crypt), XX is certainly a welcome addition and sure to take its place among the best. While horror is often seen as a male dominated genre, with statistics that Jovanka Vuckovic calls grim – “7% of 2016’s 250 highest-grossing films had female directors,” let’s not forget that some of our best Universal Monsters horror icons have been born of women – Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” Elsa Lanchester’s Bride, and Milicent Patrick’s Gill-Man. We also have Sofia Boutella’s The Mummy out this June! With XX, it’s another powerful moment in a movement that is continually bringing visibility to a corner of the horror genre that has been dark for far too long.
One of my favorites, Karyn Kusama, said “It’d be really great to get to a place where the idea of an anthology directed all by women seems like a backward notion somehow. But right now, it’s so necessary. The genre misrepresents women, but so does most of society, so do most art forms, so does business and politics and science. I try not to think of myself as a unicorn. I remind myself and everyone around me that I’m just another human being making work.”
XX opens in theaters, along with its video-on-demand release this Friday.
If you’re in the New York City area, might we recommend checking out XX at Nitehawk Cinema? The Williamsburg, Brooklyn theater is a favorite of ours and one we’ve had the opportunity to collaborate on with screenings of Dracula, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, and this past week’s Phantom of the Opera. They will be hosting two screenings of XX and it’s just another reason we love them so much.
- Ticket Price: $12
- Rating: NR
- Run Time: 81 minutes
- Director: Annie Clark, Karyn Kusama, Roxanne Benjamin, Jovanka Vuckovic
- Starring: Natalie Brown, Melanie Lynskey, Breeda Wool, Christina Kirk
- Format: DCP
- Year: 2017
- Language: English
- Note: Midnite weekend screenings happen on Friday & Saturday nights (meaning arrive on Friday and/or Saturday night by 11:45pm for seating, the movie starts after midnite)!
Nitehawk presents a special preview screening on the all-female helmed horror anthology XX!
Introduction by Shudder Curator, Sam Zimmerman.
XX is a new all-female helmed horror anthology featuring four dark tales written and directed by fiercely talented women: Annie Clark (St. Vincent) rocks her directorial debut with THE BIRTHDAY PARTY; Karyn Kusama (THE INVITATION, GIRLFIGHT) exorcises HER ONLY LIVING SON; Roxanne Benjamin (SOUTHBOUND) screams DON’T FALL; and Jovanka Vuckovic (THE CAPTURED BIRD) dares to open THE BOX. Award-winning animator Sofia Carrillo (LA CASA TRISTE) wraps together four suspenseful stories of terror featuring a cast including Natalie Brown, Melanie Lynskey, Breeda Wool and Christina Kirk.
Tickets are available on Nitehawk for Friday, February 17th at 12:10 am and Saturday, February 18th at 12:10 am.
Also see XX Selects midnite series featuring film selected by XX directors.
(Steven Biscotti – @reggiemantleIII)