14 June 2024

“XX” – Anthology Horror Movie

The Anthology is a peculiar creature; I don’t know how to tackle it. No point, surely, in separating them one by one from the pack, and shooting it in the head like a runt – for they are all runts here – as they are not short films, or would have been released as such. They are sold together… an anthology.

(The least runtish is Annie Clarke’s – the only one that might conceivably survive alone in the wild, and might even be strong enough to grow into a ninety-minute adult. But this is not the point – this is an anthology.)

And yet I do not hate this film. As with all anthologies, there’s something unsophisticated and a pleasing about it. Though not necessarily artistically sound, it is nonetheless a pleasant form. Regular foppish verdicts on the rightful or wrongful corruption of light and sound are voided. It supersedes – or rather suprasedes – judgement. How so?:::

We seem to have left the cinema, and yet aren’t quite watching television. Indeed – and this is where its ‘nonetheless-pleasantness’ comes from – its conception isn’t truly either; it is instead a much earlier form of entertainment. It’s pre-cinema, back in the days of oration and yarn-weaving. A campfire one-upmanship and bettering of the last which, I suppose, becomes an anthology’s substitute for a maintained threat of tension.

The anthology sticks much more loyally to the joy of story, regardless of quality. And indeed quality is no issue when each story isn’t around long enough to offend – the only meter in this form is how much it creeps on you. Horror, I have always thought, is the most harmless model of movie, the most unpretentious and most eager to please – quality, in many, many cases, is no great object, and certainly no hindrance to a thrill. Note, when considering this, what a great proportion of anthology movies are of the horror kind.

But the right place for the anthology film still eludes me. I know I would resent this movie if it began to stake any claim to the cinema. I have never seen an anthology movie in an auditorium, and for this I am thankful – I would take an immediate disliking to it. This is not a real movie, and is certainly not real cinema, and it should never be mistaken for such. It’s hard to know exactly what “XX” is, or where it hoped to thrive, but I trust it wasn’t anyplace more glamorous than Hallowe’en slumber-parties.

Owen Neve

Horror, Anthology | 2017 | 15 | 8th May 2017 (UK) | Thunderbird Releasing | Dir.Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama, St. Vincent, Jovanka Vuckovic | Natalie Brown, Jonathan Watton, Peter DaCunha |Buy: [DVD]

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