Friday, July 15, 2016

Film Review: Southbound (2015)

Southbound (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Microsoft Movies & TV
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...each story initially captured my attention, but it always went south."

Five interlinking tales following travelers on a desolate road, surrounded by nothing but dirt and their darkest secrets...

Southbound is a horror anthology. I won't go into detail for each story because that would create a long review and I'd rather not spoil them, so I'll just give you the gist. The Way Out follows Mitch and Jack as they speed down a desolate road, running from bizarre floating creatures. Siren follows a Sadie, Ava, and Kim – who happen to be part of a band. Their car breaks down on the way to a show and they end up in the clutches of an enigmatic couple. The Accident follows Lucas, who runs over a young woman. He calls 911 and he's given peculiar instructions to save the woman. Jailbreak follows Danny as he attempts to find and save his sister from a group of demons. (Monsters? Werewolves? I don't know.) Finally, the film comes full circle with The Way In. The final story, like the rest, does not leave an impression. In fact, I would say it was fairly predictable.

Southbound is a disappointing film. The stories attempt to be these horrifying tales with mind-bending twists, but it is mostly ineffective. It is interesting – it had my attention for the 90-minute runtime – but it's not every entertaining or frightening. It is creative and twisted, but it is not exactly well-written or even coherent. In an attempt to create something mind-bending, the filmmakers inadvertently created something unnecessarily convoluted, incoherent, and underwhelming. I understand the theme is 'running from the past,' but it relies too much on the vague past to really hit home. Aside from the disappointing plots, the characters are also dull and the horror is lightweight. Really, there was more humor than horror in this film. Like I said, each story initially captured my attention, but it always went south.

The acting was mostly okay. Fabianne Therese, Mather Zickel, and David Yow perform well. The supporting cast is also good. The film is shot well, too. It's not the most beautiful film ever, but it's not bad on the eyes. The music was fantastic, though. I love the soundtrack. If you'd like to know who wrote and directed what, please read the IMDB or the Wikipedia page. I'm just going to bunch them together since they all have the same pros and cons. So, the film is directed by Radio Silence, Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, and Patrick Horvath – Brucker and Horvath also write. Other writing credits go to Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Roxanne Benjamin, Susan Burke, and Dallas Hallam. I think these are fine filmmakers. I even recognize Radio Silence from V/H/S. Unfortunately, the writing was weak and the direction was dull. I think these filmmakers would fare better away from short films so they can actually develop their characters and ideas. It feels like most of these shorts were created from first drafts of incomplete stories.

Overall, Southbound is a disappointing movie. It's not a bad movie, but it's not great either. The film
kept my interest from beginning to end, but it failed to leave an impression. The writing wasn't honed, leaving unanswered questions and hollow characters. The direction was certainly inspired – at least the soundtrack was – but it doesn't conjure any suspense. It doesn't even have the basic jump-scares. And, before you claim I just didn't 'get it,' I got it. It's not the most complex or convoluted movie I've ever watched. Hell, I explained the plot to Modus Anomali! Don't you remember? Anyway, it's a decent rental for fans of horror anthologies, especially if you go in with no expectations.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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