Five interlocking tales of terror follow the fates of a group of weary travellers who confront their worst nightmares - and darkest secrets - over one long night on a desolate stretch of desert highway.
In 1983, financially struggling college student Samantha Hughes takes a strange babysitting job that coincides with a full lunar eclipse. She slowly realizes her clients harbor a terrifying secret, putting her life in mortal danger.
On a desolate stretch of desert highway, weary travelers - 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.
I notice that, thus far, none of the reviewers here on IMDb have attempted to give a plot summary for Southbound, which is not all that surprising given just how weird the film is. Although often described as an anthology, the format isn't a series of distinctly separate tales tied together by a wraparound story, as one might expect: instead, the film consists of several related dramas that weave together throughout the course of one night, the order of which goes like this
"The Way Out": two men in a truck are pursued by several hellish, skeletal wraiths, but find themselves caught in a inexplicable loop that sees them repeatedly returning to the same location—a desert truck stop/motel. Some inventive CGI creatures make this section bearable, but what the heck is happening, I haven't the foggiest!
"Siren: Three girls check out of the same motel to continue their road-trip, but experience a flat tire that leaves them stranded. A passing couple give the girls a lift to their house, and offer them a room for the night. This being a horror film, their hosts turn out to be strange cultists who use the girls in a bizarre ritual. This part of the film is extremely predictable: as soon as the girls break down, it is obvious that they'll fall foul of passing strangers.
"Accident": A man driving down a seemingly deserted highway accidentally runs down one of these girls as she tries to escape the cultists. Panicking, he calls 911, and is directed to a nearby hospital. Unfortunately, the building is deserted, so the helpful EMT (emergency medical technician) gives instructions on how to save the girl's life. The girl dies, but the man is sent to a locker room where he finds clean clothes, and then directed to a car identical to his own, albeit without any damage. The relieved man drives away from the hospital. "Accident" makes no sense whatsoever, but at least there is some decent gore along the way, with the girl's leg hanging off and a botched attempt at compressing her lung.
"Jailbreak": The EMT who has helped the man in the hospital is shown to be speaking from a public call box. She hangs up the phone and enters a bar. A man brandishing a shotgun comes into the bar soon after and demands to know what has happened to his sister. The bartender says he will take the man to her, and leads him to a strange tattoo parlour where the woman is working. She says that she is happy there, but the gunman drags her to his vehicle and races off into the desert. His car breaks down and he is attacked by a group of naked men. Regarding the story, your guess is as good as mine, but we are offered more gore in the form of some juicy shotgun blasts (including an exploding head) which makes the confusion slightly more bearable.
"The Way In": The film ends where it started in the desert. A group of masked men attack a family in their home, but find the daughter harder to deal with than they expected, especially when her one of the wraiths from the opening scene emerges from her back and the ground around them begins to crumble.
As you might have fathomed by now, Southbound left me more than a little confused by its bizarre narrative. I enjoyed the occasional spot of splatter, but on the whole, I'd much rather just watch Creepshow again: I understand that film.
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