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TIFF Report: Southbound

Who’s in it: Southbound is also a horror anthology film featuring a large cast that includes V/H/SMatt Bettinelli-Olpin, comedian Dana Gould, and The Jesus Lizard’s David Yow

Who’s behind it: The directors and producers of the V/H/S horror anthologies Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, and Radio Silence, and The Pact 2 director Patrick Horvath

Who should see it: If you like the bite-size, rapid-fire doses of horror you get from anthology films, this one delivers, plus the stories are all loosely tied together leading to an interesting resolution of sorts.

What it’s about: A desolate desert highway serves as the road to hell for all who travel it: a three-piece girl band whose fourth member is mysteriously missing, two men who’ve done something awful and can’t seem to get away from it, a guy who has clearly never seen that Werner Herzog texting and driving doc, a grizzled, shotgun-wielding brother in search of his missing sister, and a family just trying to spend some quality time together—until the dad’s dark secret throws a wrench into their evening.

What the filmmakers have to say about the movie: “We wanted to look at the big picture and make sure we were sculpting something together that really had in mind where the audience was in the movie at all times, so that there is a real ebb and flow to the way the shorts work together, the way they bleed into each other. It’s much more of a cohesive, collaborative kind of approach. But at the same time we didn’t want to lose the do-anything spirit of the V/H/S franchise.” — director David Bruckner on tweaking the anthology format.

Why you should see it: Unlike most anthology films, Southbound’s contingent of directors worked together on the project so that each segment would lead to the next, a technique that lets the audience look for clues about each separate story in the one that came before or after—though that doesn’t mean you’ll always find them. Part of the fun of watching the movie becomes trying to figure what the hell is going on on this cursed stretch of road and how all or some of these unlucky travellers could be connected to one another. The obvious appeal for Twilight Zone fans should be mentioned too.

When you can see it: The film had its world premiere at TIFF on Wednesday as part of the Midnight Madness program. It screens again on Friday September 18 at 6pm and Sunday September 20 at 3:30pm at Scotiabank theatre.