xx | roxanne benjamin | karyn kusama | st. vincent | jovanka vuckovic | natalie brown | jonathan watton | peter dacunha | anthology | canada | united states | peyton kennedy | melanie lynskey | possessed | demon | shelia vand | breeda wool | angela trimbur | christina kirk
Director: Roxanne Benjamin, Karyn Kusama, St. Vincent and Jovanka Vuckovic
Writer: Jovanka Vuckovic, Roxanne Benjamin, St. Vincent and Karyn Kusama
Starring: Natalie Brown, Jonathan Watton and Peter DaCunha
This film begins showing us a house. We get what appears to be stop-motion photograph. There is a doll house with an odd part near the top. It spins to reveal a face. The face blinks it eyes and does a variety of things. This there to break up the film as there is no wraparound story for this anthology film. Things we get here in between involve this doll house moving, bugs, little birds and a doll.
The first segment we get is entitled The Box. This is based off of a story written by Jack Ketchum. We have a mother and her two children on a subway. The mother is played by Natalie Brown, her son by Peter DaCunha and the daughter by Peyton Kennedy. There is a man sitting next to DaCunha, this man played by Michael Dyson. He has a box that is wrapped up like a present. DaCunha asks what is inside. Brown scolds her son, but the man is very nice. He shows him. DaCunha then gets an unsettling look on his face.
They arrive home where their father has prepared dinner; he is played by Jonathan Watton. DaCunha doesn’t touch his. Watton asks if they had food while they were out and Brown states they haven’t, just some snacks. The boy doesn’t take breakfast or touch his lunch. The next night at dinner he doesn’t eat anything again.
This starts to drive a wedge between his parents the longer this goes. Brown then finds DaCunha talking to Kennedy in his room. She then stops eatting.
DaCunha starts to lose weight and we can see in his face that this is not healthy. Can Brown figure out what is happening before it is too late?
The next segment is entitled The Birthday Party. We see Melanie Lynskey as she wakes up that morning. She goes to get coffee and runs into the woman that helps out around the house, played by Shelia Vand. Vand has two cups and Lynskey takes one. She states that is taking the other to her Lynskey’s husband. Lynskey believes he hasn’t gotten back from his trip yet. Vand finds this odd as his car is in the driveway. She decides he must have gone for a run or something then.
Lynskey then goes into his office to find him there. She is talking to him and he isn’t responding. She discovers he is dead. He is played by Seth Duhame. She isn’t sure what happened to him, but she is trying to hide this from their daughter, played by Sanai Victoria, and to not ruin her party.
What happened to Duhame? Can Lynskey successfully move his body to not ruin the party?
The third segment is Don’t Fall. This follows a group of friends as they go hiking. There is Casey Adams who is kind of a hippy. His sister is played by Breeda Wool. Then there is Angela Trimbur and Morgan Krantz. Trimbur spooks Wool, telling her not to fall and she flees from the edge of the cliff. She finds a rock to hide by. Trimbur comes up to apologize and notices that there are markings on it. It looks like three people and the one in the middle appears to have horns.
They have an RV and they are hanging out by it. Adams goes to use the bathroom and spooks Wool. She goes to bed, but Trimbur notices there is a mark on her hand. Wool has a nightmare that night that she is attacked by a shadow monster. Adams comes out of the RV to find her and she is possessed by something.
Can they survive the night? What is wrong with Wool? Can she be saved?
The final segment is Her Only Living Son. This one follows a woman, played by Christina Kirk. She is living with her son, played by Kyle Allen. We learn through this that her husband is a famous actor. He has never been in the son’s life and she has been on the run from him. Allen’s birthday is coming up soon and he will be 18. We see that there isn’t something quite right about him.
We get this when he is playing outside with the dog and we hear sounds of pain. Kirk goes out later to see a squirrel is stuck to a tree. Kirk has to go into school to see the principal; she is played by Brenda Wehle. There is a parent of another student, Lisa Renee Pitts. Allen apparently tore her finger nails out. The student is on the way to being valedictorian, but the school isn’t looking to punish Allen. This confuses Pitts and Kirk.
What is wrong with Allen? What is he going through? Can he be saved?
I was turned on to this film through podcasts I listened to. I got around to it when I was catching up on films from 2017. I have to say that I like the idea that started this film. It is done by all women directors and told from women’s point of view. I am all for this in the film industry. I liked the stories of all of this film for the most part. The Box was very interesting. I really wonder what was in the box and why does it have the effect that everyone that knows to stop eating. It also is interesting that Brown is the only one not to know, she survives, but her obsession is finding the man with the box and discovering what was inside. She is still hungry though. The Birthday Party is more of a black comedy and I get the idea of what Lynskey is trying to do. Not sure I would have seated my dead husband in a costume at table. I was also wondering more about Vand. She takes the glass that Duhame had when he dead and she cleans it, very quickly. Did she cause this? Don’t Fall had an interesting story as well. Her Only Living Son also did. When I caught on to what it was trying to do, I was a big fan. All of the stories did leave me wanting more, which in a film with shorts I think is a good thing.
The acting was good across the board I’d say. Brown I felt bad for in The Box, but it interesting. She has no problem eating when her kids stop and her husband calls her out on it. Acting in The Birthday Party was good, but I do question Lynskey’s motives. I get you don’t want to ruin the party, but it also seems much worse overall to what she is doing. I thought the acting in Don’t Fall was bland until the change in Wool. Then I thought everyone showed some good fear, except Krantz. He comes off as being in shock which I didn’t mind. I have a crush on Trimbur by the way. The final segment I thought had really good acting. Kirk seems like she is trying her hardest without a lot of help. Allen comes off as the angst ridden teen and when you learn his secret, it makes even more sense as to why.
As to effects in this film, there wasn’t a lot in The Box. I would just say they did a great job at making DaCunha look unhealthy from not eating. There was some CGI to make them look skinner as well and I thought it looked flawless. None were really used in The Birthday Party. I thought the shadow monster in Don’t Fall looked really bad. I didn’t mind the effects on Wool after her turn though. There were a little in the final one, but it all looked good to me. I think it was practical there which is why. The editing of the film was well done. I think each segment builds tension and there wasn’t a lot of filler in it. I don’t have any complaints there. I would have liked a wraparound story if possible, but the filler there was creepy to me. The score of the film was good. Each segment has a different tone and I felt the choices matched each one.
Now with that said, I would recommend giving this anthology a viewing. It wasn’t the best in my opinion, but it does some good things. I thought the stories for the most part make sense and are interesting. I don’t mind the endings of any of them, but they did leave me wanting more. The acting was solid in each I’d say, even if some of the motives don’t make sense. I liked the effects aside from the shadow monster. I thought the editing was good and the score was as well. I would say that this is an above average film that does some good things. If you want to support an all women directing and writing film, check this out, I found it quite interesting.
My Rating: 6 out of 10