Directed by Katinka Narjes
A young man is being carted through an old hospital floor. His eyes flicker weirdly, and there are shaved spots on his head. The soundtrack brims with classic 50s style Hammer horror music – a rustling recording of electronically distorted strings and what sounds like a ghost singing an aria.
We're still right in the horror genre: A girl with empty, dead eyes looks at him like a zombie before being taken away. At this point and in this setting, she might actually as well be a zombie. She is strip searched without losing her poise, and there is something of a moment between her and the protagonist. Then there actually is a young doctor rushing in, but instead of surgery he orders a straitjacket, a head shave and ceaseless supervision – and to keep the protagonist away from any sharp objects. We follow the man's gaze through the glass separating him from the other cells and understand – this is a suicide clinic, a psych ward for people who tried or still try to kill themselves. The girl might look like a zombie, but her bandages tell a different story – she's not dead, yet alone undead. And the razor blade she smuggled into her cell inside her mouth ends up being used for something completely unexpected.
XXO, directed by Katinka Narjes and written by Stefan Höh, is a bitter-sweet three and a half minute joke; a moment of macabre beauty within the bleakest of all possible settings, like the beautiful plants sprouting from hollow skulls in the post World War One drawings of Otto Dix and his fellow artists of the grotesque movements like the Neue Sachlichkeit; or like Alan Moore's demon Etrigan planting a single flower in hell in order to emphasize the bleakness of the place even more. There's something being said in this film about life, maybe not love, but life, and a sense of fun and playfulness finding a way even into the gravest of circumstances.