Southbound  is the new horror anthology film in a similar vein to V/H/S that not so ironically features some of the same filmmakers. Southbound features five segments, directed by Roxanne Benjamin, Patrick Horvath, Radio Silence, and David Bruckner, of varying content and horror subgenres united with several elements: theme, violence, setting, dread, and of course, woe.
Anthology in format, not in style. Southbound is the first horror anthology film that really works with its format. The transitions between segments are relatively smooth, or about as smooth as they can be for an anthology, and the film as a whole has a pretty uniform aesthetic and technical style. Although different filmmakers made the individual segments, there is not a jarring stylistic change with each one. This is a welcome change from many anthologies where the change in a segment is a whole new style to get used to.
Horror variety show.Southbound changes its scare methods and styles with each new segment, keeping things fresh and unexpected each time it transitions into a new story. From freaky creatures to a tense mystery, the film tries many different things and succeeds in almost all of them. There is no one weak link as all of the segments works pretty well, but two definitely stood out. The third segment, “The Accident”, seemingly a twisted and tortuous version of Tom Hardy’s Locke, really stood out with its gruesome images and freaky ending. The final segment, “The Way In”, is also pretty memorable with how off the rails it ends up. Each segment is very twisty and mysterious, but these two really take the cake in that department.
The problem with anthologies...is that they, by definition, are a collection of stories and not one whole. They can have connective tissue, sure.Southbound connects its stories thematically with the fear of what’s in your rearview, tonally with tense scenarios and twisty reveals, and visually with the constant appearance of a certain creature. However, because it is many stories, there is never time to connect with any of the characters on a larger scale. “The Accident” features the best character but we are only with him for a certain amount of time and we are left ambiguous wondering what happens next. It’s not this film specifically that does this, it's the entire anthology genre. A lot of the time being left wanting more is a good thing. That means that the film doesn’t wear out its welcome and we are left to fill in the blanks on our own. In this case, we are left wanting a little too much, but what we do get it pretty interesting and unnerving.
Southbound rises above a lot of the traditional anthology movie trappings to create a brutal, unsettling, and fun experience.