Five interlocking tales of terror follow the fates of a group of weary travellers who confront their worst nightmares – and darkest secrets – over one long night on a desolate stretch of desert highway.
No matter which road you choose, it’s all going south.
Release Date: 2016 | Runtime: 1hr 29min | Genre: Horror | Source: Amazon Streaming | Country: USA | Rating: Unstarred
I really, really, really wanted to rate Southbound higher. There was a lot of really cool stuff in it. And I generally love anthology horror movies and will cut them a little slack, usually.
Ok, the good stuff. The effects were pretty damn good. There were some really cool monsters. Especially the Reaper type things. The acting is very good. I really liked the way the segments flowed into each other. They felt very natural and non-jarring. Unless they were meant to be.
My only issue with it was that the stories didn’t feel complete enough in spots. Some of them ended satisfactorily but others felt like they were thrust into the next one very suddenly. And this isn’t supposed to be a slam at the writers. The stories were very interesting and I wanted a little more on the backgrounds that were alluded to.
The Way Out:
Two men are caught in a loop trying to leave a roadside motel/diner. They are also chased by skeletal wraiths that are pretty damn cool looking. It was interesting and I was thinking it was the frame story and would ultimately be explained more (particularly the motel sequence) but it really wasn’t.
Three girls check out of the motel to continue their road trip to their next gig. Their car breaks down and they are ‘rescued’ by two strangers who look straight out of Leave it to Beaver. This is one of the segments that introduced a backstory that was intriguing but ultimately didn’t have an impact on the story itself. Also, why do people stand in the middle of the road when it’s clear that the car isn’t going to stop? Which brings us to the next segment…
A man driving down a seemingly deserted highway ends up running over one of the girls while distracted on the phone. To be fair to him, though, she literally just stands there waving as he barrels toward her. Apparently she has no self preservation instincts. He calls 911 right away and the operator leads him through an increasingly bizarre (and wrong) list of medical procedures to ‘save’ her life. This segment is particularly gruesome and both the actor and actress do one hell of a job in their roles. Then it ends with him leaving in shiny new clothes with his car fixed and it’s revealed that the woman guiding him through the procedures is just a woman in a payphone who…
Turns out to be a monster. Some dude busts into Monster Bar looking for his sister. This segment was pretty dam funny (I thought). And had a nice flip. The sister doesn’t want to be rescued. She tries to stop him but he hustles her to the car and tries to escape through the desert where naked men are lurking. He gets left to either be eaten by them or become one of them. Not really sure. This was definitely the least filled out of the stories but entertaining.
The Way In:
This is where the first story begins as three masked men attack a family in their home. As you may have guessed, two of the men are the ones from the beginning. But the motives for their attack weren’t really clear. It appears to be a hit of some kind as one of the men (the little girl’s father from earlier) holds p a picture as he knifes the father of the family. (who turns out to be a tougher customer than they thought but who also doesn’t escape when she really should). After everyone is dead (except for the guys from the beginning) the Reapers emerge and start chasing them.
And that completes the loop. I found The Accident to be one of the best segments as it starts out with a bang (literally) and just progressively gets worse and worse until you’re wondering what will happen next. I jut wish some of them had more clarification to them. I’m assuming they’re all in some sort of Hell or Purgatory as everyone seems to have a sin or secret that led them there. The Way Out/The Way In seemed to hinge on the fact that in seeking retribution for his daughter’s death he accidentally (kind of) took an innocent life, damning himself and his friends.
Siren seems to imply that Sadie ditched her friend and bandmate Alex at the bar while Sadie went home with a guy and something…bad happened to Alex. It doesn’t say what but you can fill in the blanks.
The Accident seems like perhaps he died on impact and his sin was not paying attention and hitting the girl.
Jailbreak is where my theories break down a bit. The monsters could be the denizens of Hell/Purgatory but why should the guy be damned? It doesn’t seem as though he abused his sister in any way so I have no idea why trying to save her (albeit against her wishes) should damn him.
These are just my theories on what’s going on. If it weren’t for the stories being abrupt and not fleshed out it would have gotten a much higher rating. The production was good, the effects were good, the direction and cinematography were good. The acting was surprisingly good for so many unknown actors and actresses.
I would definitely give Southbound a watch and if you do then let me know your theories on it!
GracieKat was the first co-host of Sci-Fi & Scary, Lilyn’s partner-in-crime, and sub-head of the Kali Krew. She reviews horror books, movies, and games for the site. She also does a weekly Focus on the Frightful feature, and is the site list-maker. She is also in control of the Sci-Fi & Scary podcast which will relaunch soon.