A pervasive atmosphere of no-one-can-hear-you-scream is extreme in “Southbound.” The picture, a low-budget anthology of five minihorror stories, packs a punch. Rating: 3 stars out of 4.
The Talking Heads sang of a “Road To Nowhere.” The characters in “Southbound” all find themselves on a road to … nowhere good.
In the five loosely connected stories that make up this horror anthology, that road is a ribbon of two-lane blacktop snaking through an ugly hunk of anonymous desert (the Mojave plays it). A character rightly describes it as “the middle of nowhere.”
Cellphone coverage is spotty, settlements are few, far between and desiccated, and the “people,” so-called, who one meets along the way are not necessarily human.
Movie Review ★★★
‘Southbound,’ with Chad Villella, Hannah Marks, Tipper Newton, Directed by Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath and Radio Silence, from a screenplay by Benjamin, Bruckner, Horvath, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Susan Burke and Dallas Hallam. 89 minutes. Rated R for gory violence and language. Sundance Cinemas (21+).
Guilty consciences and blood-spattered visages are behind the wheel in the opening segment. And hovering off in the distance, indistinct through the windshield like a shimmering heat mirage, is horror.
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That’s an impressive opening for a low-budget exercise in creeping terror where, in succeeding segments, a flat tire lands three young women in the clutches of a smiling couple with unholy intentions, and a highway accident puts a put-upon driver in an eerily empty hospital where a twitching victim bleeds her life away as he frantically pleads for help in dark, deserted corridors.
A bar patronized by demonic patrons and a motel where masked figures menace a terrified family are a little farther down that selfsame road.
The segments, though short, are nastily effective. The cast of unknowns and the little-known writers and directors (several of whom were involved with the making of 2012’s “V/H/S,” also a low-budget horror anthology) are more than up to the task of making an audience shiver.
Above all, the picture’s pervasive atmosphere of no-one-can-hear-you-scream is extreme.
“Southbound” packs a punch.