On a desolate stretch of desert highway, weary travellers - two men on the run from their past, a band on their way to the next gig, a man struggling to get home, a brother in search of his long-lost sister and a family on vacation - are forced to confront their worst fears and darkest secrets in a series of interwoven tales of terror and remorse on the open road.It's actually quite difficult to review Southbound as the nature of the story itself is central to the horror of the movie. It's definitely one of those flicks that benefits from its audience knowing as little as possible about its twists and turns ahead of time.
Essentially a portmanteau road movie, made up of interlinking chapters as different groups of travellers encounter strange and supernatural problems along a nameless stretch of lonely desert highway.
The contemporary, American, desert setting accentuates the isolation and creepiness that factors heavily into the stories, with each as unnerving a slice-of-strange-life as the last.
The individual parts beautifully segue into each other, carried by strong performances of the ensemble cast, and on-point direction by the teams in charge of each segment.
Emphasising the isolation of the desert, Southbound makes great use of non-verbal dialogue, with extended scenes of little or no conversation that help ratchet up the tension.
While not for the faint-hearted (there are some truly icky moments here, especially in the hospital sequence), the major weapon in Southbound's arsenal is its constant, unsettling, atmosphere.
Perhaps too subtle for the torture porn generation who prefer the dumbed-down jump scares of a lot of modern horror movies, this is perfect fare for those looking for something a bit different and slightly more cerebral.
The vibe of Southbound has more in common with, say, the original Hellraiser than The Conjuring.
And there are also several great monster effects here: for instance, the angelic-demon creatures, which appear in the first and last chapters of the film, are quite spectacular and will stay with you once they've worked their way into your psyche.