Produced by anthology veteran Roxanne Benjamin (V/H/S, V/H/S 2), who also makes her directorial debut here alongside Patrick Horvath (The Pact 2) and V/H/S collaborators Radio Silence and David Bruckner, Southbound is a cohesive five-part indie horror anthology amping up for a limited nationwide release beginning February 12th. The film, released by The Orchard, will open in Indianapolis at the AMC Showplace 17 on Indy's southside during its opening weekend in theaters.
One of the greatest faults to be found in most anthologies, even those connected by a common theme, is that they can often feel disjointed, disconnected or just plain dissatisfying. With Southbound, the filmmakers have worked both individually and with a tremendous sense of camaraderie in creating five stories that, at least on some level, manage to connect with one another.
The film begins with Radio Silence's The Way Out, a retro-vibed and Twilight Zone-styled short film about two men (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Chad Villella) who show up in a small roadside gas station with their clothes and faces blood-spattered. Despite their best efforts, it's seemingly a diner from which they cannot escape.
Then, we go to Siren, starring Hannah Marks, Nathalie Love and Fabianne Therese as a rock n' roll trio traveling along a highway in their lime-green VW bus. When their bus gets a flat, the three young ladies are rescued by an older couple who invite them to their home for the night. Directed by Roxanne Benjamin, Siren is predictable yet creepy and formulaic yet immensely fun. Darkly humorous in all the right ways, Siren makes you hope that Benjamin gets behind the camera again really soon.
The third segment, Accident, is by far the film's highlight, a dark, morbid, humorous, creepy and outright squirm-inducing short from writer/director David Bruckner about a man (Mather Zickel) driving along an isolated highway talking to his wife on his phone. Distracted by the photos she keeps sending, he doesn't see a young woman in the middle of the highway and, you guessed it, hits her.
In most films, short or feature-length, the guy would simply move along haunted by the past. Accident is different. The man in question stops, calls 911 and tries to get help. When it becomes apparent that there's no help on the way, he loads her up and takes her to the nearest emergency room.
Trust me, you won't want to miss where it goes from there.
From the film's strongest segment to its weakest, Jailbreak stars David Yow as Danny, who is determined to rescue his long-gone sister (Tipper Newton) whether she wants it or not.
Finally, we look for The Way In, another Radio Silence directed piece that bookends the opening film in ways that are curious, intelligent and immensely satisfying.
Southbound, which is also available through VOD channels starting tomorrow, February 9th, was an official selection of multiple film festivals including the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, 2015 Fantastic Fest, 2015 AFI Fest and more. Southbound benefits not just from cohesive filmmaking, but from an ensemble cast that seems to have a solid clue of what's actually going on here. With stellar music by The Gifted and a tremendous lensing team, Southbound is an anthology that stays with you long after the last film's closing credits have rolled by.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic