Creating an anthology film is a tricky task, especially for the filmmakers of Southbound. Four filmmakers – Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath and Radio Silence – have teamed up to create five intermingled tales of terror. There stories share one thing in common; they all take place on a particular highway, seemingly in the middle of nowhere.
My review of this film is going to be brief, simply because getting too into each story will take away from the overall effect of this film. The film begins with two men, who appear to be on the run from something. They enter a convenience store, covered in blood and we aren’t sure why. From there, we get tales about an all-female band, a car accident, a man looking for his sister and a home invasion segment.
In just 89 minutes, a lot happens in these vignettes that together make Southbound. Some work much better than others – Horvath’s segment, the one about the brother looking for his younger sister falls particularly flat – but Southbound is almost consistently punctuated by genuine moments of terror.
Southbound is a film that many won’t hear about due to its small release – it only made $6,250 in its opening weekend – but though it’s not a perfect movie, it’s an effective one. Some of its commentary on fate and remorse plays heavy-handed – and there is no doubt that the highway itself serves as a metaphor open for interpretation – and not fitting with the films overall visceral wallop. Something always seems to be looking around the corner. The sense of dread throughout Southbound keeps you glued on the screen, even when segments of the films aren’t working.
All of the filmmakers, except Horvath, worked out another horror anthology called V/H/S. If anything, these movies serve as a calling card for talented filmmakers who do not rely on cheap scares and gratuitous gore to elicit a reaction from their audiences. Southbound has its fair share of blood but it far more effective and unnerving than your typical Hollywood horror movie.
Verdict: 3 out of 5
For its atmosphere and paralyzing sense of dread, Southbound works. Some of its commentary is heavy-handed and one full segment is ineffective in an otherwise effective horror anthology. The entire film serves as a calling card for its team of filmmakers on the rise.