“This is for all you lost souls. Sinners staring that road down to redemption…”
Anthology is the new black in the horror world. What with V/H/S, ABCs of Horror, Black Mirror and loads of others, the ghoulish cinematic landscape hasn’t been this awash with anthologies since the days of the Twilight Zone. It is easy to see the attraction. Up until around five years ago, horror was at its lowest ebb, waiting for the next big thing to hit. To bridge that gap, horror directors realised that while they didn’t have the budget or the imagination to carry a feature film, they could string together a series of shorts under one rotting umbrella. This has produced some truly terrifying horror shorts without ever really working as an entire film. Southbound also falls screaming into this trap but it dies with dignity after being one of the more successful projects in this genre.
Each segment has a different director and a different story but they all take place on the same long stretch of road at the same time. Southbound plays beautifully on our fear of lonely and desolate highways and the people that cling on to those crumbling cliff edge towns. As is always the case in this genre, the sudden shifts in story can be a little jarring but each segment has roughly the same tone and feel, an ethereal, menacing sense of unreality.
It helps that the acting is excellent and the production values strong. It is nearly always a mistake for a low budget horror film to utilise CGI however, but it is done nicely here, mostly leaving the money shots to the imagination. Some segments work better than others but again, that is the price you pay for an anthology. There is certainly enough here to suggest that any of the four directors who worked on this flick could go on to make a successful feature film in the future.
It is satisfying to say that competition is finally strong again in this genre but Southbound more than holds its own. Recommended viewing for any horror fan.