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SOUTHBOUND (review)

Review by Elizabeth Weitz
Produced by Christopher Alender, Badie Ali, Hamza Ali, Malik B. Ali, Roxanne Benjamin,
Chris Harding, Brad Miska, Greg Newman, Radio Silence, David A. Smith
Written by Roxanne Benjamin, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, David Bruckner,
Susan Burke, Dallas Richard Hallam, Patrick Horvath 
Directed by Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath, Radio Silence 
Starring Chad Villella, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Kristina Pesic, Fabianne Therese, 
Nathalie Love, Hannah Marks, Dana Gould, Anessa Ramsey, Susan Burke,
Davey Johnson, Mather Zickel, David Yow, Tipper Newton, Matt Peters, 
Maria Olsen, Tyler Tuione, Kate Beahan, Gerald Downey, Hassie Harrison

A lone stretch of desert highway is where things go horribly wrong for a group of travelers, all of whom are connected by one simple thing; guilt, a feeling that we all know can do serious damage to our soul. 

Unfortunately for this group of people, guilt also manages to manifest itself tangibly in the form of carnage, crazy insect/skeleton/demons, murder and Satanists, so yeah, you could say that guilt is a real bitch in this omnibus of horror courtesy of the folks who brought you the V/H/S trilogy (as well as Ti West’s great lo-fi horror flicks The Innkeepers and House of the Devil).

As an homage to the horror anthology films of the 80s like Creepshow, The Cat’s Eye, Nightmares (and hell, let’s throw in some even older ones like 1972’s Tales from the Crypt and 1975’s Trilogy of Terror), Southbound is able to evoke the best and the worst of these interlocking story flicks, providing some really great chills as well as a couple letdowns that you feel could have been righted if they took a bit more time with them (considering it only has a running time of 89 minutes, an addition 15 minutes between both the fourth story, Jailbreak and the final story, The Way In (which is a sister to the opener by the way) could have turned Southbound into an instant classic).

But don’t let that deter you from enjoying it.

As horror goes, Southbound‘s three remaining stories are terrific fun and yes, have a good amount of blood and guts to keep even the most jaded horror fan happy. The Way Out (the intro starring Chad Villella and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin) has enough WTF to hook you, leaving you to wonder if there is a resolution coming, the second, Siren will give you a huge girl rock group (played by Fabianne Therese, Nathalie Love and Hannah Marks) boner, plus, the ridiculously off-beat, off-putting performances of Dana Gould, Anessa Ramsey, Susan Burke and Davey Johnson (which sort of feel like a cross between The Twilight Zone: The Movie‘s It’s A Good Life and The Simpsons Tree House of Horror II‘s version of It’s A Good Life) make the vignette weirdly crazy and cool and leads straight into the best story of all: The Accident.

Written and directed by David Buckner (V/H/S and The Signal), The Accident takes the simple premise of a distracted driver (Mather Zickel) hitting a pedestrian in the middle of the night and turns it up all the way to 11 in the worst way possible. Trust me, if you’ve ever been out driving at night on a lonely, unlit road you’ll share in the horror of The Accident…I know I’ll be paying better attention from now on.

Like I mentioned before the final two stories had great premises (Jailbreak: A man, David Yow (vocalist for the great band The Jesus Lizard), spends a decade looking for his missing sister only to find her in a hell-forsaken town…literally and The Way In: A family (Kate Beahan and Gerald Downey) spending a last weekend together before their daughter (Hassie Harrison) leaves for college find themselves terrorized by a group of masked men) but were unfortunately cut far too short to really make the impact that they should have (although the final minutes of The Way In almost redeem it).

If you like horror and want to see a film that is smart, well-done and really does have some serious thrills and scares, Southbound is perfect for a dark-night viewing.

Southbound is playing in select theaters and is available on VOD

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