Horrortoberfest ’18 Day 24 – XX (2017)

The next anthology brings us four stories from female directors. This is probably the one for this week I was most excited about. I always like getting different perspectives in horror and more women in the industry is a good thing. I should have known, however, when Jef agreed to watch the movie with me that it would end up being pretty bad since Jef isn’t allowed to watch any horror movie with me that is remotely decent.

The first short movie, “The Box”, is based off Jack Ketchum’s short story of the same name. A young kid on heading home on the train is curious what is in an old man’s box. When he looks inside, he becomes changed in that he no longer feels hunger. Whenever he shares the knowledge of what he saw, the curse passes on to that person as well. The mother has to watch in horror as her entire family begins wasting away in front of her. Definitely the strongest entry of the series, with a mounting tension and an unknowable affliction.  4 out of 5.

Sadly the movie takes an immediate nosedive directly after this. The second short is “The Birthday Party” which isn’t even really a horror movie so much as a slightly macabre episode from a sitcom. A mother is trying to give her daughter the perfect birthday party when she discovers her husband dead in his office apparently from natural causes as we don’t see any marks on him. The rest of the short is her trying to hide the body so as not to ruin the birthday party. It’s such a banal story that you would hope the lack of horror is at least made up by being genuinely funny but it just feels formulaic and boring. If you’re tasked with making a horror movie, make a horror movie.  1.5 out of 5.

The third short, “Don’t Fall”, at least makes an attempt at being a horror story. You have all the classic set up of 4 friends going camping in a secluded place and a monster attacking. Unfortunately, that is literally the entirety of the plot. It’s super unclear what the monster even is. It might be it bites one of the friends and she turns into one or maybe it is possessing her or wearing her skin or something. The deaths aren’t particularly interesting and the characters aren’t fleshed out enough to care about them nor are they awful enough to root for their deaths. It is nice that 2 of them are a lesbian couple. Good to know the gays can be in shitty horror too.  1.5 out of 5

Our last story, “Her Only Living Son”, manages to somewhat pull up out of the tailspin the movie was in. It follows a mother dealing with her son turning 18 and all the baggage that includes but also he is the son of the devil. The plot asks the question “What if Rosemary’s doctor had believed her and helped her escape from the Satan worshipping house?” While not exceptional in any way, the themes of losing one’s child as they grow up, dealing with an absentee father, and teenagers trying to figure out who they really are blends well with the whole Son of Satan thing.  2.5 out of 5

Overall, pretty disappointing when an anthology only has one decent entry. I hadn’t mentioned it but the entire thing is strung together between stories with little stop-motion bits where a dollhouse with legs wanders around an old house. It’s very weird and doesn’t tie in with any of the stories. Also, if you took out the third movie, you be left with an anthology where, instead of “women directors”, the theme is actually “being a mother is hard”.

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