Five overlapping tales constitute Southbound, whose most commendable trait is that one story bleeds seamlessly into the next — rarely do multi-director horror anthologies amount to more than the sum of their mixed-bag parts. That they’re in conversation with one another lends the work of directors Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath, and Radio Silence the feeling of a novel-in-stories rather than a collection of discrete narratives.
Their various creations — Lovecraftian skeletal creatures that resemble floating Grim Reapers; a catastrophic car accident in the middle of the night; an all-female power trio en route to their next gig when a flat tire sets something more sinister in motion — all benefit from being next to one another rather than on their own. This is especially crucial given the fact that all but the last chapter (an unnerving home-invasion scenario) rush so much to announce themselves as creepy and off-putting that they never prompt genuine unease.
All of this takes place somewhere in the desert, on or near a stretch of nameless highway leading nowhere pleasant, with haunted characters trying to forge ahead while doing their utmost not to look back at whatever’s in pursuit. But just as most of them can’t outrun their pasts, neither can they escape familiar plot contrivances that try too hard and achieve too little.
Directed by Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath, and Radio Silence
Now playing, Village East Cinema