Southbound (2015)

Wow! Sometimes a movie just completely takes you by surprise and delivers in a way you had completely given up on for years. I had resined myself to accepting sub-par films like It Follows or Unfriended because I had truly accepted that there was just no way that the horror genre could produce anything truly exciting or innovative anymore. Long gone are the days of a film even providing the minimum jolt of fear or surprise in me, let alone sticking with me long after the credits rolled. When I was younger films like Candyman or The Shining were impactful and left a mark, modern horror is barely background noise when I clean or perform a menial task. So I had very low expectations when I sat down to watch Southbound, and boy was I wrong. I still no longer get scared when watching horror films, but I am capable of feeling surprise, shock, and tension, and this movie had all three in spades. The film is also non-traditional as it is an anthology horror film made up of five loosely connected stories. The cast is made up of complete unknowns, which in horror films is always welcome because it prevents any distraction provided by famous faces which make the suspension of disbelief that much harder to reach. Southbound was a fun and creepy thrill ride and while I have no idea how I came to settle on this film or when I first heard of it, but I am so glad that I did. Enough dilly-dallying though, and let’s get to the stories in the film!

“The Way Out”
Director: Radio Silence
Writer: Matt Bettinelli-Opin

This is how you start a movie! One issue with modern horror-fare is this perceived need to over-explain everything, there is just so much exposition and mythology building which cuts the action and only satisfies curiosity, but drains the movie of any palpable sense of dread. Not here. Two men are in a pickup truck driving on a deserted highway. They are covered in blood. A shadowy figure is kinda seen behind them. They arrive at a petrol station with a diner filled with creepy people who don’t seem to be shocked or alarmed by the strangers caked in blood. The men leave the creepy gas station only to discover they are in some kind of loop that keeps bringing them back over and over again. And then things get weirder. Based on this first segment alone I was completely hooked!

“Siren”
Director: Roxanne Benjamin
Writers: Roxanne Benjamin & Susan Burke

This second tale begins and teeters dangerously close to the female exploitation horror that has come to embody the genre: a gaggle of young scantily clad women alone in dangerous situations. It is just that, but it isn’t at the same time. Three girls who are in a rock band drive down a highway but find themselves stranded once they get a flat tire. A middle aged couple in a car offers help. They appear nice but there is something off that only one of the girls seems to pick up on. At the couple’s house the women are treated to a dinner party with a hair-raising group of guests, including a pair of silent twins whose stares alone can provoke the most violent of shudders. Dinner and its aftermath are disturbing and thrilling.

“The Accident”
Writer & Director: David Bruckner

A man hits a women with his car while driving at night. Instead of taking off the man does the right thing and contacts the authorities. He is instructed to take the woman to the nearest town (GPS doesn’t work and he appears to be lost). The town is deserted and what follows is the most vile and visually disgusting sequence in the film. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen even though I kept telling myself to look away. Ironically, this is the only sequence with a happy ending in the entire film… I use the term “happy” extremely liberally.

“Jailbreak”
Director: Patrick Horvath
Writers: Patrick Horvath & Dallas Hallam

My least favorite out of the five stories and the one that was just a tad too weird and tonally disjointed compared to the strong other segments in the film. In this section a man is searching for his long lost sister and is getting close to finding her. He enters a bar that is made up of demonic-esque characters who he subdues and convinces to guide him to the location of his beloved sibling. While the man does find his sister, she may have not wanted to be found and the reunion is not as happy as was originally hoped for.

“The Way In”
Director: Radio Silence
Writer: Matt Bettinelli-Opin

The same director and writer of the first film, and the two segments are bookends to each other. A family of three checks into a motel and are quickly attacked by unknown strangers. It’s the classic home invasion story with a twist, and ties the movie perfectly together. An appropriate conclusion to a thrill-ride down a terrifying highway to hell.

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3 thoughts on “Southbound (2015)

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