HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: XX (2017)

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XX (2017)

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I’m a huge fan of female filmmakers making their voices heard in the horror genre, so, obviously, I was intrigued about this new anthology featuring four stories all written and directed by women. Unfortunately, like in most anthologies, the flick is a bit of a mixed bag with not all stories being equal.

First story is the best and is based on a short tale by Jack Ketchum. It’s written and directed by Jovanka Vuckovic and is a disturbing tale. The Box has mom, Susan (Natalie Brown) out in the city for the day with her kids, Danny (Peter DaCunha from Hellions) and Jenny (Peyton Kennedy). Danny spies a man with a present and his curiosity gets the man’s attention and he’s offered a look inside. Whatever he sees disturbs Danny greatly and he stops eating. He refuses to talk about it, but as he slowly opens up to his sister and dad (Jonathan Watton), they stop eating as well. With her family wasting away before her eyes, Susan is determined to find out what was in that box. This is a tense and unsettling episode with some disturbing imagery that has lasting effects even after it’s over.

Next story The Birthday Party, is directed by Annie Clark and is co-written by she and Roxanne Benjamin and is the least of the four tales. This one has self absorbed mom Mary (Melanie Lynskey) throwing a party for her little girl (Sanai Victoria) and finding her husband (Seth Duhame) dead in his home office. Not wanting to ruin the party, she now must find a way to hide his body. That’s it. It’s as uninteresting as it sounds.

Next story is written and directed by Roxanne Benjamin and is called Don’t Fall. This is a fun and effective episode finding a young woman (Breeda Wool) with a fear of heights going on a desert camping trip with friends. She runs afoul of an ancient evil entity in a cave and is transformed into a demonic creature that now stalks her companions. It’s simple, a bit gory and is a more straightforward and fun horror segment.

Anthology ends on a so-so note with Her Only Living Son. Directed and scripted by Karyn Kusama (The Invitation), this is a ho-hum tale of single mother, Cora (Christina Kirk) whose son, Andy (Kyle Allen) has suddenly turned violent. As she tries to find out what’s wrong with his behavior, she begins to suspect that his coming of age may have triggered both a horrifying transformation and unveiled a revelation about his true “father”. This segment is nothing new and ends rather abruptly and un-satisfyingly.

There are some really cool stop motion animated framing segments to the stories directed by Sofia Carrillo, that are probably the most effective thing about this uneven anthology. I still recommend one give it a look based on the framing bits and the stories that work, as it is still worth checking out…just not the total success one hoped for from some of the up and coming ladies of horror.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 “X”s!

xx-rating

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: SOUTHBOUND (2015)

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SOUTHBOUND (2015)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Spooky flick is a strange anthology that starts out with two men fleeing mysterious creatures down a stretch of remote desert highway. Their tale leads into the next and so on, each tale leading directly into the one that follows, till the last story returns us to where we started, as if these stories are occurring in an infinite loop with each person reliving the events over and over. We get a sense that each person has a dark secret or sin to hide and the film never quite spills all the beans, remaining unsettlingly ambiguous, save for some interesting comments from a radio DJ (Larry Fessenden) everyone appears to be listening to on this desolate stretch of road.

The Way In and The Way Out are the opening and closing segments that keep the tales connected in it’s loop are directed by Radio Silence (Devil’s Due) and written by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin. They are quite spooky and effective tales that opens mysteriously and only let’s us know what it’s blood-covered characters (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Chad Villella) have been up to when we reach the anthology’s end. Creepy and very effective and starts the flick off on a disturbing note and ends it chillingly.

Siren tells the story of an all-girl band (Nathalie Love, Fabianne Therese and Hannah Marks) who break down on the same road and meet an interesting fate. There is some vague talk about the death of a fourth band member and where the blame might lie and a seemingly nice couple (co-writer Burke and Davey Johnson), that come to their aid, who are not what they appear. Another spooky and off-putting segment written and directed by Roxanne Benjamin, who co-wrote with Susan Burke.

Third segment is called The Accident and has the surviving band member from Siren getting hit on that same highway by a man named Lucas (Mather Zickel), who tries to do the right thing and get her help. His efforts become a living nightmare as he happens upon a hospital that is more a house of horrors with empty halls and blood spattered walls. Another very effective segment written and directed by David Bruckner.

Jailbreak is the weakest segment, which features a brother (David Yow) trying to rescue his sister (Tipper Newton) from a strange town the mysterious highway runs through and were Lucas found the hospital in the last segment. This sequence simply doesn’t quite have the same impact as the others and while it delivers the gore and blood, as they all do, it doesn’t resonate as well. It is written and directed by Patrick Horvath, who co-wrote with Dallas Hallam.

We then come to the previously mentioned The Way Out, where we segue back to the characters from the opening while telling the story of a young girl (Hassie Harrison) who is spending time with her parents (Gerald Downey and Kate Beahan) for the weekend before going off to school. The house they are renting comes under attack from some masked individuals, but the story doesn’t go where you expect and successfully brings us back to the films opening.

All the segments are well performed by it’s cast of relative unknowns (indie icon Larry Fessenden’s vocal performance aside) and not only provides some definite chills and thrills, but quite a lot of creepy imagery and blood-spattering gore.

Overall, I liked this flick. It’s disturbing and unsettling and doesn’t spoon-feed you all the answers…though pay attention and there are subtle clues to what might be going on and fun ways the stories connect. It’s no secret we are possibly watching a form of Hell were those inside are doomed to repeat their sins or suffer the consequences over and over, though there is indication one might free themselves from this unearthly loop by making the right choice. Either way, it’s a creepy, blood-soaked ride down an unnamed highway of horrors.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 highway signs on a road to nowhere.

southbound rating

 

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