[film]xx


Anthology horror movies are a mixed bag in more ways than one. Often times they have flashes of brilliance in one short and everything else falls flat. XX (2017) is a collection of four short films written and directed by women. It is an excellent example of an anthology done exactly right. It captures a consistent tone with distinct style differences between all the shorts.

First off there’s an amazing stop animation frame story directed by Sofia Carrillo. It’s creepy and is about dolls. That’s absolutely all I need in something ever. It is a full enough tale unto itself that it almost counts as fifth short. It sets the tone from the get go that you’re in for a quirky and slightly unsettling ride, but ends on a sweet note.

Which leads us to the shorts themselves:

The Box
(Jovanka Vuckovic)


Based on a short story by Jack Ketchum, a boy asks “what’s in the box?” to a stranger on the train. The stranger shows him and proceeds to lose his appetite and stops eating altogether.

Let me just take a second to say that the answer to “what’s in the box?” is never ever something good. It just isn’t. So don’t ever ask it in real life. Did se7en teach us nothing? Now that we’ve established that, the Box feels like a psychological mind fuck about how mothers can feel alone and isolated even amongst the people who love them most.

The Birthday Party
(Annie Clark/Roxanne Benjamin)


Annie Clark is better known to the world as St Vincent and she makes some of the most amazing music ever. Here she delivers a psychedelic and delicious black comedy about the lengths we’ll go to for our kids. It is my favorite in the four films. It walks a perfect tightrope between dark, weird, funny and still making sense.

Don’t Fall
(Roxanne Benjamin)


Don’t Fall is a pretty quick and straightforward possession tale about four campers who camp on cursed land. There’s excellent monster makeup and a well done transformation scene. Super enjoyable, but it’s not exactly reinventing the wheel.

Her Only Living Son
(Karyn Kusama)

Eighteen years after living on the run, a woman must confront who (or what) her son really is or if he is even really her son. Another one that is pretty straightforward, but speaks so much to the strength of women even with things they have very little actual control over.

What XX offers us is a unique take on women in the horror genre. It is the rare film that doesn’t depend on over sexualisation or damsel in distress cliches. This is one of best shot and well crafted collections to come along in awhile. Every single one of these women has a unique and much needed voice. These stories are just good stories. XX is completely worth a watch.

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[film]star crossed

True story: I am not an overly romantic person. Or, if you ask my husband, a romantic person at all in any traditional sense. It took him a long time to fully get used to the idea that, no, I don’t actually want flowers and, really, I’m okay skipping all the traditional trappings of Valentine’s Day.

I don’t harbor the amount of bitterness that some people do to the holiday though. I’m not specifically anti romance. I am anti cookie cutter get a girl flowers, jewelry and candy romance. (Off topic: My husband does have my version of romance down. One example: I was obsessed with Popples at one point and he put a ton of work into tracking one down for me as a gift. It was back when we were first dating and it was the sweetest thing anyone had done for me ever at that point.) I’m also pretty anti cookie cutter romantic movies that tend to feel like they’re just the film version of hearts and candy romance. I do however enjoy a well done story about star crossed lovers across genre lines.

Presented here however is five of my go to romantic movies, some more traditonal than others.

Natural Born Killers (1994)

This is my husband and I’s movie so putting on this is list is almost obligatory. It’s also the tale of star crossed lovers who overcome all odds to be together forever. There’s also a good old fashioned killing spree, a ton of social commentary and an insanely good soundtrack.

Romeo + Juliet (1996)


Worth noting, I actually love Shakespeare, but in general struggle to ever connect with productions of Romeo and Juliet. Aside from the story being a little silly, it just doesn’t resonate with me like other Shakespeare plays. This is the only version that I genuinely love. Claire Danes’ acting aside, there isn’t much fault in it. It’s visually stunning and (again) has a fantastic soundtrack.

Moulin Rouge! (2001)


Yes, the second Baz Luhrmann movie on this list. Again, visually astounding, incredible soundtrack, etc, etc. I actually went through a phase where I was obsessed with this movie so it may actually be a case of the less said the better, but sex and absinthe fairies, oh my.

Stardust (2007)


In my world there is very little that Neil Gaiman can do wrong, and though the film adaption is quite a bit different from the book, this is Gaiman perfection. It’s snarky and romantic, smart and sexy, adventurous and funny. It puts the literal star in star crossed. (Also Claire Danes is delightful in this to balance out how not delightful she is in Romeo + Juliet.)

Princess Bride (1987)


I mean, you didn’t think any list about star crossed lovers wouldn’t have the greatest romance of all time, did you?

[film]he never died

In my experience people either love or hate Henry Rollins. Honestly, I get both sides of that argument. I personally have no issues with the man. Yes, Black Flag was a better band with Keith Morris, but Rollins has never embittered me like he has others I know.

All of which brings us to the film of the day, He Never Died (2015). Jack (played by Rollins) is a mysterious man who lives alone and just wants to be left that way. He had a mysterious and dark past alluded to in dreams. He goes out to play bingo and to the same restaurant to eat and that’s about it. One day the past comes knocking on his door in the form of a daughter he didn’t know about and his comfortable day to day existence is thrown into chaos. We find out that Jack has lived a very long time and cannot to all appearances be killed despite occasionally seeing actual literal Death hanging around from time to time.

Henry Rollins is basically playing Henry Rollins (albeit the immortal variety) here. Enjoyment of this movie hinges very much on which side of the Rollins fence you reside on. He does turn in a solid performance however. Kate Greenhouse also turns in a fantastic performance as Cara, someone who goes from having a crush on Jack to wanting nothing to do with him whose drug along for the ride.

If He Never Died suffers from anything, it’s a sense of meandering through the plot at times. As much as this may have been intentional from the stance of here’s a man whose lived a very long time and ennui is bound to set in, it does make it difficult to drive a story at times.

He Never Died is dark, funny and unexpected storywise. Underneath everything there’s a vein of hopefulness. None of us wander so far that we are completely lost and undeserving of some form of love. More than anything, that heart is what sells this movie. (Even though some rad gore scenes don’t hurt either.) It’s pretty much destined to be a cult film, but in the best possible way.

[film]the craft or how i learned to stop worrying and love being a feminist


Teenage me was one of those girls who used to think feminism was a bad word. I didn’t like other girls, because I bought into the idea that they were all catty, mean and probably talking shit behind your back. It didn’t help that I had dealt with some intense bullying and slut shaming by girls I considered close friends after being raped. In my head, if women were getting the short end of the stick in society, it wasn’t society. It was the fact that women were petty and spiteful.

Junior year of high school two things happened to make me step back and reevaluate my life. One of these was an amazing history teacher named Mr. Berry who forced us to critically think and not just take what we were told by books and adults at face value. In introducing me to the extensive history of the Women’s Rights Movement, he made me realize that women are, yes, sometimes spiteful and mean. They are also bad ass and amazing. I was still convinced that I was a girl who wasn’t like other girls though.

The second thing that happened that year was the release of the Craft.


The Craft, for those that are somehow unaware, is a movie about four girls who come together to create a powerful coven of witches. There are lessons about forcing what you want and ultimate power ultimately corrupts. It was the rare horror movie that put women front and center, with men serving little more purpose than a supporting cast.

More than anything, for me, it’s a movie about sisterhood and how much stronger we are when we work together. It’s also a movie about owning your personal feminine power unapologetically. As someone who had been distancing myself from all I saw as feminine in myself it was a revelation. When they do end up fighting, it’s not over anything as paltry as a boy. It’s over the power to control the world around them.


As I’ve gotten older, I realize that in some ways it’s a flawed example of feminism in pop culture. What starts as a sisterhood degenerates into a mindset of uniformity of thought being necessary (to the point of attempting to kill the one that doesn’t go along). I now see that Nancy was always only interested in personal gain with Rochelle and Bonnie sycophantically following along. I can excuse this even now though. If their coven had survived the growing pains of being granted ultimate power, I can’t help but feel like they would have grown up to be their own Witches of Eastwick (probably without the babies though).

For all its flaws, the Craft made me open my eyes and start looking for the supportiveness in other girls. It made me start to build other women up instead of tearing them down by assuming they were catty at first meeting. It made me examine the idea of Girl Power and what it means. Pop culture has always been a lens of self discovery for me and the Craft is perhaps one of the biggest cornerstones of that.


Thanks, girls, for all the inspiration.

(February is Women in Horror Month. I wanted to write this piece as the perfect example of where women and horror intersect and create awesome moments. Please check out #WiHM8 for more amazing women in the horror community.)