I’m not a huge fan of reviews or criticisms because many of them make something that is subjective seem objective. However, I love talking about movies, books, video games, and television shows. So this is Talking to Myself, a segement of my blog in which I will express my opinion and overall interpretation of the books I read, the movies I watch, and the games I play. Today’s topic will be the horror film, Southbound.
Southbound is an anthology style film created by some of the awesome people behind the VHS series. The difference between the two is that Southbound maintains a stronger connection between each “section” of the film.
Overall, there are five different stories, all of which follow different characters while just a few of them appear in multiple segments. For me, the movie seemed to be about the setting of the film more than the individual characters. That setting is an unnamed road that leads into an unnamed town which is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Within this town there are demons, cults, and people who are probably possessed. It’s a place akin to hell or pergoratory, although I don’t think any of these people are actually dead. Basically, its a more gruesome version of the Twilight Zone.
What I found so compelling about Southbound is the way each story flows into the next. Without giving too much away, the best way I can describe it is that each story ends where the next one begins. Meaning, the first story ends one hotel room over from where the next character’s start their journey and that story ends on the same road where another character starts his and so on and so forth. This not only gives the story a more fluent flow than any of the VHS films but it also makes the audience feel like they are a bystander being carried throughout this town by the characters they latch onto.
The way Southbound is written and shot also allows each story to suggest a larger narrative. Whereas in VHS the viewer was seeing short stories spliced within another short story, in Southbound, they are seeing short stories that are a part of, and make up, a larger tale that encompasses the entire town, the people living there, and the forces at work there. For me, this is the way an anthology film, or show, should operate. Creating seperate, completely unrelated stories is good, but having those stories come together to build an even larger narrative the audience has to infer is genius.
As for the content of the five stories, in my mind, the section of the film that most embodies the spirit and style of Southbound is “The Accident”. Again, I don’t want to reveal too much but this segment is gory, darkly humorous, fast paced, and utterly disturbing. To be honest, it’s one of the most shocking and visceral moments of film I have seen in the horror genre in a long time.
In regards to the technical work behind the camera and the cinematography I cannot really say how good or bad it was. I was too absorbed by the story to really notice. However, I did enjoy the various instances when the camera panned from one character to another in order to switch to the next story. It made the film feel like one long cut. I didn’t really notice the quality of the acting either, which probably means it was good. What I did pay attention to was the script and I loved it. The dialogue was quite creative at times, yet easy to follow.
Overall, Southbound is a horror movie I enjoyed immensely. It’s style of storytelling and creativity makes all of the other horror films that came out in the last year (with the exception of The Witch) look boring and cliche. On a scale of one to ten its easily an eight, at least. If you like horror, watch it. If not, watch it anyways because its good. Unless you don’t like demons, gore, unnamed highways, or mysterious meats.