SOUTHBOUND (2016)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 29 minutes

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Southbound poster

Directed by: Radio Silence, Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner & Patrick Horvath

Written by: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Roxanne Benjamin, Susan Burke, David Bruckner, Dallas Hallam & Patrick Horvath

Starring: Chad Villella, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Kate Beahan, Susan Burke, Gerald Downey & Dana Gould

The team behind the V/H/S trilogy delivers another low-budget horror opus in SOUTHBOUND. This latest anthology contains five stories set alongside one long desert highway. As with any anthology, the stories range in quality and tone. If anything, SOUTHBOUND is a cool little flick with big aspirations and ideas. Not everything works in each of its tales, but there’s a constant flowing connection between them. As with all of my anthology reviews, I’m going to tackle each segment individually before grading the film as a whole…

Southbound 1

THE WAY OUT: Two bloodied men make their way across a desert highway, whilst being pursued by a supernatural creature. This story was an interesting way to kick off SOUTHBOUND, but also introduced one of the main issues that I had with most of these tales. There’s an interesting, suspenseful build-up as we have to infer the possibilities of what the creature is and why these two guys seem to be trapped in a waking nightmare. There’s no satisfying resolution to this tale. It had a building momentum that seemed to be going in one direction and then doesn’t do much with that. B-

Southbound 2

SIREN: A band of three young women find themselves stranded on the side of a desert highway and are picked up by an odd bunch of Good Samaritans. The lead singer begins to question their rescuers’ motives when some freaky occurrences happen over dinner. This felt like a combination of TEXAS CHAINSAW and Satanic Panic movies, but with an oddball indie quirk to it. Much like THE WAY OUT, this second segment has a promising set-up and then never truly fulfills that potential. The conclusion is lackluster, even though it directly connects into another story. B-

Southbound 3

THE ACCIDENT: This is the best part of the entire movie. In the middle of the night, a man accidentally hits a woman on the familiar desert highway. In an effort to save this poor bleeding victim (who’s teetering dangerously close to death), he calls 911 and is given a set of peculiar instructions by the operator. This story is easily the creepiest of the bunch. David Bruckner (director of the second-best segment in V/H/S) has proven himself to be a talented name in indie horror. That reputation precedes him here as he populates this story with stomach-churning body horror, steadily rising tension, and an eerie conclusion that (though not entirely perfect) left me satisfied. A-

JAILBREAK: Following up the film’s best segment is (easily) the weakest segment. A shotgun-toting man bursts into a bar looking for his missing sister. One of the bar patrons claims to know her location and the man discovers there are dark forces at work. This segment really cements my biggest complaint with this entire anthology. It feels like SOUTHBOUND wanted to have a sort of mythology built into it about hell, sinners and eternal punishments that happen to take place on this creepy desert highway. The problems with this segment (and film as a whole) stem from a messy script building all of the would-be mythology in a haphazard fashion. This fourth segment isn’t necessarily terrible, but it does highlight everything that’s lacking about this movie. C

THE WAY IN: This final segment is the second-best. A family find themselves at the mercy of three masked men with particularly vicious intentions. Though this doesn’t necessarily stand alongside the same level of quality that Bruckner’s disturbing ACCIDENT displayed, it’s a suspenseful home-invasion tale that directly bleeds into an earlier segment. The first part of this segment is pretty familiar stuff, albeit executed effectively. The last 10 minutes are where things spiral off the rails into interesting otherworldly territory. I liked the conclusion to this one, even if the ending is slightly undermined by the segment that it directly links into. B

Southbound 4

SOUTHBOUND has a lot of cool ideas behind it. The film can’t piece them together due to occasionally sloppy writing, conclusions that lack a powerful punch, and a short running time that simply doesn’t allow room for establishing the hellish mythology that was clearly on the minds of these filmmakers. I liked this anthology as a fun time-killer. It just feels like there’s a fantastic vision lying somewhere in SOUTHBOUND that was never fully realized. If you’re in the mood for a horror anthology with varying degrees of craziness, then SOUTHBOUND will likely satisfy to a degree. Don’t blow your expectations through the roof (the hype on this movie is ridiculous) and you’ll probably enjoy this odd ride through hell.

Grade: B-

One thought on “SOUTHBOUND (2016)

Add yours

  1. Perfect review. Captures and validates everything I was thinking but was unsure of. Glad to know I wasn’t missing some smart link that I just couldn’t find. The film simply didn’t offer one.

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