CVIndependent

Fri07102020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

Four women write and direct short films in horror anthology XX.

Most notably, Annie Clark of the band St. Vincent (My hero!) makes her film-directorial debut with a segment called The Birthday Party, in which a frantic mom (Melanie Lynskey) panics when she finds a corpse just before her child’s birthday celebration. The segment looks great, is acted well, and features some great sound—including St. Vincent music. As a piece of horror, it’s a bit of a failure (it’s more jokey than horror), but the segment does show that Clark can direct performances and pull together the technical parts. It’s just not all that scary.

Things get creepier in an Evil Dead sort of way with Don’t Fall, in which desert campers come into contact with demonic forces after seeing some sketches on a stone wall. There isn’t much of a story to the segment, but the scares come fast and furious once somebody gets possessed.

The other two segments (The Box and Her Only Living Son) deal with starvation, parenthood and the Antichrist; they also have their moments.

Nothing in this anthology is groundbreaking, but there’s enough here to warrant watching if you are a horror fan—or you’re a St. Vincent fan.

XX is available via online sources including iTunes and Amazon.com.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

Writer-director Joe Swanberg has followed up his terrific Drinking Buddies with Happy Christmas, a fun vehicle for Anna Kendrick and Melanie Lynskey.

Kendrick plays Jenny, a woman who has recently broken up with her boyfriend and goes to live with her brother and his wife (played by Swanberg and Lynskey) in Chicago. Once there, she commences partying with her pal (Lena Dunham of TV’s Girls) and disrupting her brother’s household, which includes the nephew she is supposed to be baby-sitting.

The movie feels as if it has been largely improvised, especially when the amazingly funny toddler is on screen. The stars handle the freewheeling nature of the film well. Kendrick and Lynskey shine in their scenes together, while Mark Webber is decent as Jenny’s new love interest. Swanberg is an interesting director, for sure.

Many of the stars in this film, as well as Sam Rockwell, Ron Livingston and Rosemarie DeWitt, are slated to appear in his next film, Digging for Fire, a movie I will be eagerly anticipating. Swanberg has managed to stay under the radar so far; I suspect that might change soon.

Happy Christmas is available via online sources, including iTunes, Amazon.com, and via video on demand.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing