It’s all the horror you can handle in three anthology films! Or is it? Let’s take a look?
XX got a good amount of hype—and sadly opened it up for excessive negative attacks—because it’s an anthology featuring only shorts directed by women. Forget about hype or negativity, because like most horror anthologies, it doesn’t matter the gender of the directors. The fact is, some of the stories are just going to be better than others.
There’s no wraparound here, but the intro sequence could be described sort of like a slightly less sophisticated take on the creepy montage openings of American Horror Story. Now for the stories.
“The Box” – This one is by first time director Jovanka Vuckovic and stars Natalie Brown, the mom from The Strain. At Christmastime, her young son asks to know what’s in a gift box a man seated next to them on a subway is carrying. The man shows him and the son begins to act differently immediately. What could possibly have been in “the box”?
“The Birthday Party” – alternative singer St. Vincent directs this short, which stars crazy Rose from Two and a Half Men! Only, Rose isn’t the crazy one this time. Unless you consider going on with a child’s birthday party when there’s a dead body in the house crazy…
“Don’t Fall” – Director Roxanne Benjamin is no stranger to horror anthologies, with stories in the V/H/S movies and the anthology Southbound. In terms of tangible horror, this is the one, and so my thing – probably because it reminds me of the film Primal. Friends camping in an RV in the middle of a desert discover a painting on a cave wall and then shit gets demonic! This one’s fast and furious!
Karyn Kusama, director of Jennifer’s Body, doesn’t go for the fun stuff this time. This is serious and heavy shit about a mother trying to keep her troubled teenage son away from his father by moving from place to place.
But the secret she’s keeping about the dad is about to catch up with them, and the son seems willing to embrace it, with tragic results. Forget the story. Can we talk about the mailman? It’s horror hottie Mike Doyle.
THE VOID VOLUME II (2017)
A sequel to a film I blogged about here, this is just a bunch of horror shorts brought together and packaged as an anthology film. The good news is, that means you’re bound to find at least a few stories you like. I did.
As with the first collection, some of the shorts are more “artsy,” some kind of leave you scratching your head because they’re so abstract, and still others have a good old Twilight Zone twist. There are several stories of the infected/zombie variety, but the good news is, they offer some unique approach to the genre. For me, there were a few standouts, for various reasons.
One story has a sort of necro twist…which gives us a glimpse at a baldy’s bod.
A really disturbing Nazi gas chamber experiment tale has an oddly uplifting “Amazing Stories” twist. I can’t believe I just said that, but that’s precisely what makes it a good story.
For me, the most straightforward one – the humorous one about a zombie going to high school – was the highlight.
Overall though, there simply weren’t enough stories here to deliver enough of the kind of horror I like.
PATIENT SEVEN (2016)
Maybe it’s a sign of the horror times, or a result of my continuing spiral towards a more pedestrian palate, but I assumed Patient Seven would be just another low budget, straight-to-streaming production that put most of its money into paying Michael Ironside into appearing for 5 minutes.
Instead, this is a slick, high-quality anthology that stars Ironside in the wraparound as a sadistic doctor who comes to a mental institution to interview patients for a book he’s writing. The only way to get each one to talk about the awful thing that got them locked away is to torture them…
1st patient – This is how you do a horror short in an anthology. Amy Smart (am I the only one who thinks she and Lar Park Lincoln of Friday the 13th Part VII are the same person?) wakes one night to see a freaky creature stalking her young daughter…a creature her daughter doesn’t see.
2nd patient –A dude commits murder on Halloween, when it’s a lot easier to dispose of the body, considering everyone thinks the bloody sack you’re dragging down the street is part of your “costume.”
3rd patient – A hottie goes hunting for food during a zombie apocalypse.
There’s a twist, but it has become a bit of a cliché in recent years.
4th patient – a young prankster just doesn’t know when to quit.
5th patient – A girl turns to witchcraft to vanquish the “imaginary friend” that’s terrorizing her little sister. Good story, even if it is does have a basic modern tween horror look and feel.
6th patient – A guy who believes in vampires begins slaughtering all those he suspects of sucking blood. Is he just delusional?
7th patient – Although it’s another zombie story, this time in the snow, it actually ties the film together.