Film Review: Southbound
February 20th, 2016 | by Craig Caudill
Horror anthology film Southbound is in theatres now, and Craig Caudill has ComiConverse’s review.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Southbound. I think some of the collaborators worked on the film V/H/S. I remember V/H/S had one story that left a deep impression on me. I felt was filmed very well; it had a strange girl who turned out to be some sort of harpy or siren. She obsessed over one of the party goers, kept repeating “I love you, I love you” over and over. Until she ran off with him and took off flying this was all shot on cameras on his body, befitting the “found footage” genre. I intend to talk about this at great length in another article, but I thought it was very well done and a good moment of suspension of disbelief — it looked real. I loved the abduction caught on tape; it almost felt like a viral video, leaving me to wonder how they filmed that without CGI magic, and still maintain the feel of raw video footage. This is one of my fantasies, being kidnapped by a babe — who would complain?
Now Southbound belongs in the realm of the horror anthology genre. One could argue it’s a vast improvement on the V/H/S concept; this was much better. Much like The Grudge was the best adaptation from a Japanese story to an American story. There hasn’t really been a good short film horror anthology since Creepshow — and yet I’ve seen them all, despite my better judgement. This movie expertly crafted a group of short stories that blended into each other so wonderfully you might possibly, if you weren’t paying attention, think it was all one story that didn’t make sense. This film uses a team of directors and different casts. It’s always good to see Dana Gould in anything; he is so funny. I don’t have the space to do him justice.
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Things I Liked:
What was undoubtedly refreshing in this movie was the casting. Especially the female roles — now, yes, they were pretty, but in a realistic way. I actually thought they were actresses, instead the same old scenario of producer goes to a strip club and promises girl he’ll make her a star. Which is something that been pissing me off these last fifteen years. I’ve seen a lot of B movies so bad no one takes it seriously and it’s like bad joke. You see it on the actor’s faces and how they act. Back in the day, no matter how bad the movie was, the passion and seriousness the actors put into the film is what gives B movies their charm and lets you enjoy them.
I liked the music by the Gifted. Now I can’t find their albums anywhere but I’m going to look hard to track down the sound track.
We begin with two men on the road at night, covered in blood, trying to get home. On the radio is some cheeseball 80’s retro synth which is music I love. As the credits begin to roll, the music brings me back to Claudio Simonetti and Argento and Giallo Cinema. It was really a great opening. Perhaps a subtle triumph for the jaded. And for those who do not, know Giallo Cinema is Italian for Yellow Cinema, so named because many Italian directors would shoot with a yellow filter because it made colors look more intense — especially blood.
We find our two bloody protagonists making a stop in a diner. There is a subtle pop cultural reference that wasn’t rubbed in your face: the movie Carnival of Souls was casually playing on a small TV-VCR combo. It was a nice little touch. And I loved the Twilight Zone feel to the whole production; I loved how when one story ended it segued into another. Usually stories are interrupted with introductions and credits but this film went for a more fluid approach, which I applaud very much.
One thing that comes to mind: who is writer/director Radio Silence?
Could someone be pulling an Allen Smithee?
I casually surfed the net and to find they are a team of filmmakers. I need to learn more about these guys and this screams to me, interview. If possible?
I’ll try to make it happen.
One story sticks out the most. The one about Lucas, played by Mather Zickel, who appears to traveling home talking to his girlfriend going on about which dress she looks good in judging by cell phone photos. Now he’s wearing headphones to free his hands, but he’s distracted. Suddenly he hits a girl with a car, but I can’t spoil the how and why because that would ruin the story for other viewers. And I don’t want to do that — I want you to watch this movie. He then calls 911 who encourages him to get her to the hospital and the rest of the segment plays like a WTF moment. A seemingly nice guy trying to do the right thing in a world where most people would have driven off. It’s almost like he’s punished for doing the right thing.
He winds up taking her what turns out to be a Chernobyl-like hospital which is creepy as hell. I don’t want to ruin anything, but I can say I love how it all came full circle. It’s open-ended enough to explore the story further. Although V/H/S was more of a found-footage anthology, I felt this was tight like a well-crafted Mötörhead song — when it’s good, it’s really good. This plays closer to Creepshow.
Check out Southbound when it plays in your town.
Craig Caudill is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter @craigcaudill.