Horror anthologies are alluring things. The idea of short, spine-tingling tales somehow captures the essence of horror. The campfire ghost story. The urban myth. The confession of a supernatural encounter told in confidence. Sadly, they so rarely live up to their promise. There are far more duds in an anthology movie than memorable tales. Southbound is a delightful exception.
Directed by Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath, and Radio Silence Productions Southbound is comprised of roughly four and a half stories (one of which being a bookended piece.) Each segment is well-acted, smartly directed, and holds its own flavor. This does mean of course that it can fall into the same trap as other anthologies, as quality will be somewhat subject to taste. Yet, Southbound does something I’ve not seen any other horror anthology do effectively since Tales from the Darkside; to make everything feel cohesive – parts of a greater whole. And even then, Tales requires a frame story. Southbound relies on a different technique all together – one that is far more effective and more chilling.
A Living Nightmare…
The tales blend seamlessly together. The final scene of one story is the first of the following. However, the stories aren’t linked in any logical fashion. They take place in the same area, and seem to pull from a similar evasive or enigmatic mythology – but they are distinct. But by linking the way they do has a wonderfully disturbing effect – the movie feels like a nightmare. The movie progresses in a weird dream-logic fashion.
Each story is so packed with twists and macabre oddities that you are never sure of…well…anything. The movie is almost Lynchian in its execution. At the same time, each tale is grounded in traditional horror tropes, albeit with unique takes. This mixture of familiar and avant-garde horror just adds to the dreamscape of Southbound’s structure.
Sweet Analog Sounds
Nowadays we’ve started to hit an oversaturation point with 80’s nostalgia. But, in 2015, when Southbound premiered, that wasn’t the case. So, while this analog synth score that utter drips 80’s goodness might not seem as impressive now – for its time (and still for shear quality) it is amazing. The 80’s inspired score helps to bind the tales further into a sense of unity. Fans of synthwave or just synths, in general, owe this film, at the very least, a curious glance.
I refuse to tell you any more about the movie. Exploring the tales is part of the experience. But know this: This is a must for horror fans, particularly those that like the indies of the past decade (keep an ear out for indie legend Larry Fessenden as the DJ.) Each segment is good ol’ fashion horror fun. The nebulous nature of this off the beaten path horror anthology makes it a work of art. But the horrific fun of Southbound can’t be understated either.
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