Heavily promoted as a film by the creators of V/H/S, Southbound is a horror anthology movie that eschews the found footage format in favor of applying a traditional cinematic narrative that recounts several interconnected tales. Southbound does a fantastic job at taking advantage of the anthology format, successfully linking all five of its stories together with creative tracking shots (Birdman-style). The approach is slightly better than a novelty – combining the various segments into a continuous timeline is a cool visual trick that carries the movie’s manic energy forward from story to story.
As is the case with anthologies, there isn’t much time to tell a story, and after each of Southbound‘s protagonists gets dropped into their segment, they really hit the ground running. Characters aren’t fully fleshed out — even by anthology film standards — and there isn’t much reason to root for or against them. The shaky dialogue and B-movie acting doesn’t help endear them to the audience either. By the time each segment wraps up, the horrific scenario is far more memorable than the characters or the dialogue. The segments themselves have some interesting concepts, but their poor execution would make them mediocre episodes of The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt. The effects are on par with other low to mid-budget horror films, but though the CG isn’t very good, it isn’t bad enough to be a distraction either.
While anthology series such as Fargo, True Detective, and American Horror Story remain at the forefront of a television renaissance, anthology films continue to falter. Southbound presents a series of middling stories that don’t offer any contribution to the horror genre individually or as a thematic whole. The film lack scares, humor and any sort of dramatic tension to leave a lasting impression once the movie is over.
- Victor Stiff