Southbound (2016)

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Five interlocking tales of terror follow the fates of a group of weary travellers who confront their worst nightmares – and darkest secrets – over one long night on a desolate stretch of desert highway.

It seems that whenever I start to feel down on new horror movies, one comes along to break me out of the funk; at least temporarily anyways. That was Southbound, on this particular occasion. While I wouldn’t call this a masterpiece, it was a genuinely satisfying, and not too long, movie about demons in the south. I would hesitate to call it an anthology, but the stories are very different, while still being connected.

The film has four directors and six writers, presumably all working on different parts of the film in different combinations. Most notably were directors Radio Silence (V/H/S) and Roxanne Benjamin (producer of V/H/S and Faults), with the other two actually pulling things together and making a very cohesive and solid piece of horror. Writing wise, you have more writers from V/H/S. Essentially it feels like a bunch of horror filmmakers who knew and liked each other got together to make a movie. That’s not a complaint, they just have a lot of overlapping credits on IMDB.

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The overarching idea seems to be (if the incredibly subtle poster design didn’t give it away) hell, the devil, and the demons that come along with it. Each story is connected by these same things, and the movie actually employs some really engaging creature design in the first segment. The floating grim-reaper-angels present here were what drew me in right away, and while they aren’t as present throughout as I might like, they really are a huge selling point of the movie as far as I’m concerned.

There’s not a ton of gore, or violence, apart from an extended (and rather uncomfortable) surgery scene, and some shotgun blasts, but the effects that are present are really well executed. There’s a solid bringing together of CGI and make-up, creating a movie that knows how to not make itself look like total shit. SIDE NOTE FOR INDIE HORROR FILM MAKERS: Please, watch this movie and others like it. Understand that your terrible CGI blood effects do not add anything to your movie, and actually make them worse than if they hadn’t been there at all. Get it together.

While all five stories are connected, the main seem to be the first and last, though the way everything unfolds is actually in a reverse chronological order, which does make the reveal at the end a bit more interesting. I will say, however, that most of the pieces of the film leave more questions unanswered than answered, and I would have almost preferred that more time was spent building on the individual world, as opposed to the pseudo anthology format that they ultimately chose.

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Performance-wise, everyone does a pretty solid job. I really didn’t recognize any of the actors, besides Dana Gould (Tales of Halloween), but that could be a case of my being ignorant of the indie-horror scene. I have a feeling that if you were to look, you’d find a lot of V/H/S actors have a credit in this movie as well. Gould’s performance isn’t terribly remarkable or anything, but it was kind of nice to see a familiar face. Though, I didn’t really register he starred in the movie until looking at the cast list for this review.

All in all, you have one of the better horror flicks I’ve watched this year (though, I haven’t seen The Witch yet, and I’m sure that’s going to throw the scale) and I would give it a recommend for anyone looking for something new. It’s really the only one so far that I would give an actual solid recommend to, so do with that what you will. Give it a gander kids.

MY RATING: ***

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