Are you into horror films? Like, REALLY into horror films? We call bullshit. No one is more into horror than our mainline to the under-verse, Haley. She breaks down your favorite scary flicks better than you knew possible. Her keen eye catches the scene within the scene and gives her the skills to critique films so you lucky High Fivers can glean a deeper knowledge of the psychology that is unique to the horror genre. Welcome, to the Gates of Haley.

XX Marks the Spot

It’s been a long time since I’ve just hopped on Netflix and been able to watch a recommended movie and actually trust, let alone agree with, their judgement. Half the time when I choose one that has been so conveniently selected for me, I wind up wallowing in my disappointment and wondering why I ever let them get the best of me. My taste in movies is still untouchable, regardless of the fact that the only thing in my recently watched tab was Family Guy and Sharknado, okay Netflix? Yesterday, however, was different. I found myself (once again) scrolling through the long list of pretty average horror movies when I decided to turn to my last resort… the “Top Picks for Haley” tab on my account. After a quick scan, I noticed a few interesting titles, but one stood out to me. XX, a seemingly lower budget movie with a creepy cover photo and pretty good reviews. Alright fine, I decided to give it a spin. And here I am, an hour and twenty minutes later, gifted with four rich storylines, gore, mystery, and dread all in one.

Much like ABC’s of Death, the movie XX is a horror anthology, with four different stories and directors that are XX Movie Posterbrought together, each story focusing on a female lead and each is directed by a female. Also, unlike most movies of its kind, the quality of film for each story is very nice, which makes this movie an easy watch and very, very pretty. What makes each of these shorts interesting, is that each one isn’t so much as a “story” as it is just a short glimpse into a fucked up period of someone’s life. No character backgrounds, no end tying, all four stories are basically left for the viewer’s digestion. Cool concept.

The first of our four stories, titled “The Box, takes us to a home where a woman’s family has suddenly stopped and refuses to eat. After a seemingly normal trip on the subway, the youngest of the family asks a stranger what the red box in his lap has in it. The stranger then agrees to let the boy see. Without the viewer seeing what’s inside, he opensXX Anthology The Box the box and shows the boy. As time passes, the boy starts to lose his appetite, soon not eating anything for days upon days. Tensions begin to rise as the mother becomes very passive of the eating problem, and the father tries to get the boy to eat. Upon overhearing a conversation, the mother notices that her son, the one who initially saw what was in the box, is stopping the other members of the family from eating simply by whispering something to them. Even after she asks and begs for an answer as to why they are starving themselves, all they say is “nothing”. She soon just accepts the fact her family is not eating and lives with them as if this isn’t happening. On a Christmas Day, surrounded by her now sickly emaciated family, the mother receives a gift from all of them… the same box that the stranger had on the subway. We are then suddenly snapped into a hospital, where the mother watches her family die due to their own starvation. The son, sister, and father all pass away, all sickly and skinny. The mother then chooses to spend her days on the subway, searching for the man who let her son see what was in the box. She believes that if she knows what happened to her son and what he passed on to the others, for it’s the only way she can get close to them anymore… and our story stops. No real answer, no explanation, we never even get to have a glimpse of what’s in the box. The fact that a short film can create such a dreadful and slow creeping feeling of death is incredible. This was personally my favorite short of the anthology. I mean, self-starvation with no explanation what so ever? I can ride with that.

“The Birthday Party”, the second story we are introduced to, follows a frazzled woman who has the task of planning and executing her daughter’s birthday party. After finding her beloved husband unexpectedly home, and dead, sheXX Anthology Birthday Party must hide the body in order to keep the peace on her daughter’s special day. After frantically concealing the body from the maid, her daughter, and friends, she then buys a costume from the hired performer at the party and hides the body in it. In a nice slow motion of the party, the head of the costume is knocked off, revealing the dead body to everyone invited. If you like black comedies, you’ll love this.

“Don’t Fall” is a story we’ve seen revisited time and time again, four young friends are out for a fun week of camping and hiking when they stumble upon a natural formation with someXX Anthology Don't Fall creepy writing on it. You can probably guess where this is going to go. After seeing this evil writing, an ancient evil soon possesses one of the camp members and wears her skin. The creature then goes on to brutally murder each of the remaining friends, for seemingly no reason and with no remorse. Even though I’ve personally seen this story told a hundred different ways, this very short way of telling it made it more interesting and entertaining than other like it, and the demon is beyond creepy. Props for that.

The final story, and the most creative, is a re-imagination of the events after Rosemary’s Baby. The short opens with a woman telling a mysterious man that she will go far, far away, where no one can find her or “little Andy”. Well, little Andy turns out to be her monster of a son, who 18 years and a dead dog later is in trouble at school forXX Anthology Her Only Living Son ripping a girl’s fingernails off. Despite there being solid evidence that Andy had indeed torn the girl’s fingernails off, all the teachers/superiors surrounding Andy seem to be bending to his will, even holding him to an exceptionally high standard while his mother suggests they punish him for what he has done. As more violent events unfold, we learn that Andy’s real father had made a deal with the devil, making Andy the son of Satan. Although the mother has made many efforts to keep the evil at bay and keep her son safe, the devil always takes what he is owed. In an emotional finale, mother and son are crushed within each other’s own embrace. Shocked is an understatement, and the feeling of true evil that is believable is beautifully touched in this short film.

All in all, I was very impressed by the storytelling and creativity that this anthology had to offer, and definitely will be following the directors of these films very closely. However, I will say that some of the stories offer no answer, and if the filmmakers were trying to make a bold statement or be devilishly mysterious, the stories fell short on the “clarity” spectrum and it will take a little bit of research and fan theories to get any sort of settlement on your mind. Oh well, I could use a little more brain stimulation anyways, and who doesn’t love a good dark tale to do it for you. I know I do.

About the Author (of Your Doom)

Haley Williamson Bio