XX is an all-female horror anthology that’s been quite some time in the making. The result is a series of horror short films which should evoke both fear and respect in any gender!

XX 2017 - female horror anthology - posterXX is off to a very strong start with the enigmatic The Box starring Natalie Brown (The Strain). It’s all about the unknown in the best and creepiest kind of way. Mystery and secrets are at the heart of this horror story, which will stay with you for a while.

Most anthologies have hits and misses, but overall XX is a very strong anthology. There are no bad segments. Still, you will probably like some of the stories more than others.

What all the segments in XX have in common is a female lead character (or protagonist, if you will) and the fact that a female director made it.

And there is definitely a different vibe to most of the stories due to this. Emotions of all kinds tend to push the story forward. However, stereotypes have been thrown out the window and men are shown to be equally diverse in their reactions.

There’s a total of four short films in XX along with the running theme tying the stories together to create the anthology. And even though I just stated that you will probably like some stories more than others, I have a hard time picking my own favorite.

Right after watching XX in its entirety, I would’ve said one thing and later on, I’m feeling drawn to think of another. Still, what every one of these segments has going for it, is the great performances by the actors. And yes, in particular, the lead actress starring in the story, but every cast member really delivers.

The most intriguing characters

Of course, for the actors to portray great characters, the characters have to be written in an intriguing and multi-dimensional way. This is definitely the case for every single character in every short film of XX. From the young boy and girl in the first segment to the troubled teenage son in the last.

And speaking of that last segment, it’s called Her Only Living Son and is directed by Karyn Kusama (The Invitation).

XX 2017 review - Her Only Living Son - Karyn Kusama

Once again, Kusama manages to build intense suspense while giving us very little background information. From every image and sound, we know something is very wrong – even if nothing much has happened yet. Also, the title character [the only living son] is portrayed by Kyle Allen (HULU’s The Path).

Kyle Allen reminds me of seeing Ezra Miller in We Need to Talk About Kevin, where he co-starred with Tilda Swinton. In fact, there are several elements of Her Only Living Son that reminded me of that particular movie. Don’t worry, I’m not spoiling the story for you.

Another segment, The Birthday Party, is carried almost solely by Melanie Lynskey (Heavenly Creatures). Not everyone can pull this off, but I could’ve easily watched a much longer movie with her. Basically, she’s trying desperately to keep control while everything is going wrong.

XX horror anthology review - Melanie Lynskey

Oh, and I should mention, we also get the pleasure of seeing Sheila Vand (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night) in this segment. She’s perfect at making things a bit harder for Lynskey’s character.

Female directors are perfect for horror

As a horror anthology, XX actually consists of four horror short films directed by four different female directors. The four short films in this anthology are the following:

The Box by Jovanka Vuckovic
The Birthday Party by Annie Clark (aka artist St. Vincent)
Don’t Fall by Roxanne Benjamin
Her Only Living Son by Karyn Kusama

There’s something different, when female directors are in charge of stories with female protagonists. That’s not to say it can’t work brilliantly with men – Ellen Ripley from Ridley Scott’s Alien and Sarah Connor from James Cameron’s Terminator are perfect examples of this.

Still, while those are excellent female characters, they do also start out being a bit meek and sweet before turning into kick-ass women. And that’s very positive, no doubt about it. However, with XX we get to see more of everyting; Not everyone turns into a hero, and sometimes women start out being total badass individuals without being attacked by aliens or robots from the future.

Also, not all women are born perfect mothers. And those who turn out to be just that, won’t necessarily be push-overs just because they love their children. It’s just easier for women to show this side of women. In a way that doesn’t feel like a provocation, anyway.

Every short film could be made into a feature

The only one of the short films, I haven’t mentioned earlier is Don’t Fall. But please, don’t take that as anything negative. In fact, to the hardcore horror fan, this particular story is probably of special interest.

XX review - Breeda Wool in Don't Fall

And, as it’s the case with every one of these anthology segments, Don’t Fall could easily be made into a feature film. The story is certainly easy enough to build on with intruiging characters and a paranormal element that ties into nature.

Breeda Wool stars in this, the third segment of the anthology, and does a stellar job. I’ve seen her in a few things now, and she always delivers. She has a tendency to play characters, who are relatable – both in being realistic and having faults – while also remaining somewhat enigmatic.

Also, she’s been cast in the upcoming TV-series adaption of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes, so we should be seeing more of her soon.

If you love anthologies, and enjoy it when the stories won’t let go once the end credits roll, then you should love XX.

The all female horror anthology XX premiered at Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2017. It will be out in US limited release and on VOD from February 17, 2017.


Directors: Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama, St. Vincent [as Annie Clark], Jovanka Vuckovic
Writers: Roxanne Benjamin, Jovanka Vuckovic, Jack Ketchum (original story: “The Box”)
Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Sanai Victoria, Sheila Vand, Breeda Wool, Natalie Brown, Kyle Allen, and many more.


XX is an all female horror anthology featuring new work from Karyn Kusama, Annie Clark [St. Vincent], Sofia Carrillo, Roxanne Benjamin and Jovanka Vuckovic.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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