Southbound (2015) - I love anthologies and this is one I was waiting to see since I read about it a ways back. Directors Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath and Radio Silence bring us intersecting stories where the participants touch each other only in the slightest way, a location or an emotion or a character but are intertwined.Then again some of the stories are connected with a vice grip. The wrap around story of two killers, Mitch (Chad Villella) and Jack (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin) trying to stay ahead of their demons cross with the paths of the women in the second story only in the women are staying at the motel they pass repeatedly in the freaky cycle of going nowhere fast. Harsh and edgy with a radio DJ (voice of Larry Fessenden) connecting the stories via the FM we get slightly on the nose vignettes leading us through the stories. Mitch's guilt at not protecting his daughter at a time of danger is his own little hell in the first piece that we will learn more about later.
Guilt carries through to the second story about an all girl band that after a blowout on a desert road are hard pressed to get help. The driver Sadie (Fabianne Therese), with band mates Kim (Nathalie Love) and Ava (Hannah Marks) are soon offered a ride by a slightly off couple who live in the area. The couple Betty (Susan Burke) and Dale (Davey Johnson) are having friends Raymond (Dana Gould) and Bunny (Anessa Ramsey) with there silent twins (Max and Nick Folkman) over for a group dinner. As the night wears on Sadie is plagued with references to her behavior that may have caused another band mate, Alex's (Karina Fontes) death? That guilt is a driver in the conflict but as the real danger is revealed we see that all the locals are more than they appear to be. Sadie is soon in a fight for her life, one that brings her to an unexpected relationship with passerby Lucas (Mather Zickel). The guilt that he now has to deal with from their meeting drives the third segment of the film. The weird turn in this second story drives Sadie out into the desert and brings her face to face and involved with the next piece, a lone girl on a dark desert highway cool wind in her hair.
Lucas needs to do all he can to deal with a medical emergency but can not seem to get any useful help. As he drives into an abandoned town he works desperately to find some help. When arriving at the hospital he roams the halls looking for help that is not there. Playing on a television we see Carnival of Souls (1962) playing and that certainly fits the mood of the film. A film where the lead actress is drawn to a strange carnival and later we learn she has been dead the entire time. The creepy and airy fantasy that is that movie is also building in the one we are watching. Lucas is pushed hard to do everything to save the accident victim but it is obvious to the viewer that the information he is getting is just slightly wrong. Left emotionally wrought from his experience he stumbles about looking for a way back out of the hospital. The nightmare of his night is only broken by a call from his wife, but its not her. Instead he has the same people who have tormented him on the line. Telling him to help but ultimately killing the car accident victim. He gets to live with his guilt as he drives out of town with the guilt he thinks he has been absolved of. As he goes he passes a woman on the phone and we pick up the film from there.
She is a local in the town and walks back into a bar, in that bar are a few locals who are disrupted by a shotgun wielding man, Danny (David Yow). He is demanding to see his sister a woman he is there to save. All of them are more than they first appear with long claws and scary eyes but he does not care. He is there for his sister Jesse (Tipper Newton), and these hick demons are not going to stop him. Things are not really working out for him even as he gets the bar tender to lead him to Jesse. As the Barkeep says to Danny before he is reunited with his Sister, "You're fucked Danny and you don't even know it." This is true for all the characters involved in this film, they are all fucked when we meet them and they don't even know it. Whether it is the desert valley that is cursed or the guilt of losing your sibling or, of causing a death, it is all like the in Carnival of Souls, people caught in a hell that is unrelenting and unforgiving. Circling around the film leaves Jesse and joins a family where the guilty father's secret seals the family's fate. They are to come into contact with the pair of desparados we started the film with. When all is said and done there is little redemption for the victims or perpetrators in Southbound. It is a tale about entering that in between realm somewhere outside the normal world but not fully in the depths of hell. A purgatory where all decisions have consequences and no crimes go unpunished. A very decent dark string of tales these are waiting for you on the road heading Southbound.
I enjoyed this one and recommend it. I thought the stories flowed one into the next in a pretty fluid motion and they are well tied together with emotion. As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter
account @Soresport is dedicated to following and being followed by
people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them
follow me back. I do fear that Twitter has become too much of a
promotional tool for people in film to actually get those follow backs
but hey its an experiment.