Review: SOUTHBOUND (2016){0}

Multi-story car lark

Given how many horror anthologies the horror fans have been offered recently (such as The ABCs of Death parts 1 and 2, V/H/S parts 1 through 3, Tales of Halloween, and A Christmas Horror Story, just to name a few), it stands to reason that filmmakers now have to get just a little more creative with their multi-story horror flicks. “Four or five scary tales and a wraparound segment” is the standard omnibus format, and that’s perfectly fine in most cases, but there’s always something to be said for monkeying with an established formula, and that’s part of what makes Southbound so interesting.

To explain precisely how this clever horror flick avoids the standard anthology format would probably qualify as a spoiler, so we’ll just leave those discoveries for the viewer to discover – but let’s just say that Southbound does more than simply replicate the standard anthology template. Those who pay close attention will probably savor Southbound the most when all is said and done. Let’s just leave it at that.

We open with two guys in a car on a deserted highway, and they’re running from something horrible.

Then we spend a little time with three stranded young women who (very unwisely) accept the wrong dinner invitation…

After that we meet a terrible driver who is forced to perform surgery on an accident victim…

And then we meet a guy who is searching for his missing sister – only to realize that she’s probably better off left alone…

Which bring us back to the opening tale of two guys on the run from something terrifying, and it’s a wildly novel and creative way to bring the piece to a close.

Southbound is noteworthy in that not only are each of the tales well-crafted and effective in their own right, but also in that each tale seems to complement the others remarkably well. The final segment (by the insane filmmaking collective known as Radio Silence) might offer Southbound‘s most memorable moments, but it’s very satisfying to find a “five-story” anthology that doesn’t have a noticeably weak link. Roxanne Benjamin’s “Siren” is darkly amusing and suspenseful; David Bruckner’s “Accident” is unique and intense; and Patrick Horvath’s “Jailbreak” wedges a lot of interesting ideas into a very small frame. And the back end of Radio Silence’s “wraparound” story is nothing short of freaky.

Southbound also benefits from a very expeditious pace (it runs under 90 minutes all told), a rock-solid cast (especially if you’re a loyal viewer of indie horror films), and a confident mixture of tones, attitudes, and filmmaking styles. Best of all, it leaves one with the impression that Southbound was made to be a “whole” film, and not a simple, random collection of disparate stories. By the time you hit the end credits, you may be tempted to run through the movie one more time – which makes Southbound one of the most impressive of all the recent scary tale anthologies.

– Scott Weinberg

SOUTHBOUND is in selected US theaters now, and on VOD from February 9