Honestly, I wasn’t going to review this one because I didn’t have a strong enough reaction to it either way. I was glad that I took the time to watch it, given all the hype that surrounded it but it wasn’t one that held my interest enough to want to review it.
Until I got to the X segment.
If you were out of the horror fandom last year and the first part of this year, The ABCs of Death was a thematic anthology where a series of different international directors were assigned a letter, a small budget, and given the task of coming up with a horror short where at least one character died. The biggest criticism of the finished project has been that the quality varies wildly-and the topic matter sometimes goes into the truly bizarre. And it’s true, it does. I was honestly pretty glad that I picked it as a cleaning movie-a film that I had on in the background while I did other things.
Then came Xavier Gens’ segment X is for XXL. This is sadly what looking into my head is like sometimes. I’m not sure how he managed to get so much pathos across in the time he had allotted, but he did it. The story of a woman who ultimately destroys herself to attempt to fit into society’s definition of beauty, this wasn’t a cerebral, abstract examination of weight and body politics.
What actually made this segment both so uncomfortable and so successful for me is that being a woman who, ahem, has had strangers moo at me in the past, I can understand this character’s motivations. I can understand completely why she binges, purges, and then ultimately turns on her body. I found the last image to be the most striking, the implications of in the end we’re all the same anyway.
The segment isn’t just effective because it’s a look at the body political, it’s gut wrenching and terribly gory on its own. There’s a lot of discomfort in this piece even if you’re not me sitting there wanting to crawl into this woman’s bathroom and telling her that the world isn’t worth her destruction.