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Southbound (2015)


Synopsis

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.

Review

Horror anthologies can be a mixed bag - I'm a massive fan of them - but sometimes they just don't hold together. From the very beginning this one is a little different - rather than have the traditional wraparound segment with short stories interwoven (see: Trick 'r' Treat / An Hour to Kill) - this one has a 'handing off' between each segment. It's really cleverly done and a more seamless transition between the stories. I really liked it being different. As always we're spoiler free here, except in the section below - The Spoiler Shower. You'll know to avoid it when you see it.

The film starts with The Way Out, directed by Radio Silence (V/H/S) and written by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin (V/H/S), starring Chad Villella (V/H/S) and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin (V/H/S). Pattern much? Yes. A lot of the talent involved on the project were also on the set of the excellent horror anthology V/H/S. This segment begins with two men fleeing some sort of ghostly demons. Straight to the action. It's extremely intriguing - well acted, written, and directed - but gives little away. They seem to be resigned to whatever is happening, and trapped at a roadside diner/motel. But there are no answers - handing straight over to...





Siren, directed by Roxanne Benjamin (XX) and written by Roxanne Benjamin (Body at Brighton Rock) and Susan Burke (Stan Against Evil). Three musicians, Sadie, Ava, and Kim, played by Fabianne Therese (Sequence Break),  Hannah Marks (The Amazing Spider-Man), and Nathalie Love (The Con Is On), respectfully, are preparing to leave the motel from the previous segment. Along the road they break down and bump into a creepy couple - played to perfection by Susan Burke (Slash) and Davey Johnson (Faults) - and things start to go down hill from there. Accepting a ride from them, the musicians end up having to stay in their house until their RV can be fixed the following day. It's a gripping segment for sure - without lots for the gore hounds - and a twist you don't expect.

The hand off here is when Lucas, played outstandingly by Mather Zickel (Hail, Caesar!), bumps into one of the band members on the road at night in The Accident. Lucas is dragged into a nightmarish reality - but one that is very much a lone show for the actor. And good it is too. Written and directed by David Bruckner (The Ritual), this is the "gore" segment, and is truly terrifying - set in an abandoned town it features more opportunities to grip the arms of the chair than you can shake a stick at. It's almost a of relief when it hands-off to...




Jailbreak. Starring David Yow (Bleed) as Danny, a man searching for his sister - and finding her working out the back of a bar. She is bizarrely no different than when he last saw her many years ago. But trying to escape with her may prove difficult. This one is a bit of a head scratch at first, but soon becomes clear - and culminates in an astonishingly terrifying conclusion. Written and directed by Patrick Horvath (The Pact II) and co-written by Dallas Hallam (Exquisite Corpse), Jailbreak uses unknown elements to play with the viewer - justifiably, once the conclusion is known. 

The film ends with segment The Way In, the beginning of the first segment, The Way Out. We find out why the men are fleeing the demons - and what the end of the segment already seen really means...

If you haven't seen this and want to go in spoiler free - and I recommend that you do - jump to after the spoilers... if not, I'll see you in The Shower...


Spoilers


The ending of the first segment The Way Out heavily intimates what we're getting into - the two men fleeing the demons are dragged into what appears to be Hell. Obviously we don't know what they've done to deserve it - but hey - they're covered in blood - so it can't be good. When one of them decides to stop running, a demon catches up with him. The SFX are standout - and when the poor guy gets off'ed the CG brings it. It's gory, violent fun to the max. The twist in Siren is odd - you know something is coming, after two of the victims - sorry, protagonists - eat some manky-ass 'meat' and start vomiting everywhere. I didn't expect the devil worshipping though. As one of them flees the scene - the lucky survivor - she runs straight into the road where The Accident's Lucas is dicking with his phone instead of watching the road and splatters her all over the asphalt. And it's nasty. The effects are wonderfully practical, sickening, and a perfect step up from the last segment. The rest of time we spend with Lucas is with him on the phone with a supposed team of doctors, talking him through more and more bizarre medical procedures on the dying Sadie. Again. It's nasty. He appears to be allowed to leave the abandoned town (again, looking like Hell) after claiming that the accident wasn't his fault.

Confirmation of where all this is going comes in Jailbreak. When Danny finds his sister - who hasn't aged in years - she doesn't want to leave. He forces her into the car while gunning down anyone who wishes to stop him. Once in the car she admits to killing their parents and that she deserves to be here. And we all know that only Nic Cage can drive out of Hell. Danny is killed violently by naked men demons (don't ask - it works), and his sister returns to where she came from. Taking us back to The Way In -  the two fleeing men were part of a group who took revenge on a man and his family for one of his past actions. It's never categorically stated, but the implication is that the man of the family had murdered one of the fleeing men's daughter. It all goes wrong, and the men kill the whole family - causing the rising of the demons, and the beginning of the film. I suppose, the title Southbound says it all.
 

/Spoilers

Southbound is a roller coaster of a horror ride. The segments blend together seamlessly, and muse between gripping, terrifying, and splattery. It doesn't offer all the answers, but should be enough to satisfy even those who don't want anything close to cerebral. And if you do, it's worth talking about afterwards. The different styles of the various writers and directors work amazingly well - even some of the bigger name antho's jar between segments and I didn't get any feeling of that here.

The slow burn, slow build terror in Siren and Jailbreak help the overall perfect pacing, allowing for the more quick release fear rides of The Accident and The Way Out/In to move in different directions. Honestly? This is one hell of a fantastic horror film.

Unmissable.





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