Every year I try to fit an anthology film onto my horror-thon, and this year is no different. But I think it might be the best horror anthology I’ve ever watched, for multiple reasons.
Southbound, a series of five segments directed by Radio Silence, Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner and Patrick Horvath, all takes place along a spooky stretch of an American highway. I love the short-form format as, since it’s so unpredictable, we’re not wedded to such distinct establishments and journeys of primary and supporting characters. Anything’s possible! It’s also exactly why I think short films can be scarier – the set-ups, the tension and the climaxes are all thrown at you in quick succession so there’s very little room to breathe, and what I think sets this apart from the others is that one segment follows on from the next – and part of the fun involved in watching this movie is wondering how it’s going to make that transition.
The actual variety in the stories is impressive considering that they all have to be tied together in some way, and the plots of each are surprising even when you think you’ve figured out what’s happening or going to happen. While the opening scared me the most (and sets the perfect tone for the movie), the standout segment for me was Bruckner’s (I won’t give the title away as they’re not actually stated until the end credits and I think it’s a bit of a mild spoiler to state it). Largely a one-man show, this story is elevated by Mather Zickel‘s acting as the situation becomes more and more frantic, then quickly descending into a very realistic kind of horror that perverts a scenario whose positive outcome would rely on abject trust. Leveraging that kind of situation and morphing it, almost seamlessly, into a terrifying chamber piece left me questioning whether or not I’d ever truly feel safe if I ended up in that predicament.
I’d say this is good for watch parties and for multiple rewatches, because the segments are so short and the film is under 90 minutes. It’s more than done its job, because I’m never going to travel down an American highway. Can’t see this happening on the M25.