HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: SOUTHBOUND (2015)

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SOUTHBOUND (2015)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Spooky flick is a strange anthology that starts out with two men fleeing mysterious creatures down a stretch of remote desert highway. Their tale leads into the next and so on, each tale leading directly into the one that follows, till the last story returns us to where we started, as if these stories are occurring in an infinite loop with each person reliving the events over and over. We get a sense that each person has a dark secret or sin to hide and the film never quite spills all the beans, remaining unsettlingly ambiguous, save for some interesting comments from a radio DJ (Larry Fessenden) everyone appears to be listening to on this desolate stretch of road.

The Way In and The Way Out are the opening and closing segments that keep the tales connected in it’s loop are directed by Radio Silence (Devil’s Due) and written by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin. They are quite spooky and effective tales that opens mysteriously and only let’s us know what it’s blood-covered characters (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Chad Villella) have been up to when we reach the anthology’s end. Creepy and very effective and starts the flick off on a disturbing note and ends it chillingly.

Siren tells the story of an all-girl band (Nathalie Love, Fabianne Therese and Hannah Marks) who break down on the same road and meet an interesting fate. There is some vague talk about the death of a fourth band member and where the blame might lie and a seemingly nice couple (co-writer Burke and Davey Johnson), that come to their aid, who are not what they appear. Another spooky and off-putting segment written and directed by Roxanne Benjamin, who co-wrote with Susan Burke.

Third segment is called The Accident and has the surviving band member from Siren getting hit on that same highway by a man named Lucas (Mather Zickel), who tries to do the right thing and get her help. His efforts become a living nightmare as he happens upon a hospital that is more a house of horrors with empty halls and blood spattered walls. Another very effective segment written and directed by David Bruckner.

Jailbreak is the weakest segment, which features a brother (David Yow) trying to rescue his sister (Tipper Newton) from a strange town the mysterious highway runs through and were Lucas found the hospital in the last segment. This sequence simply doesn’t quite have the same impact as the others and while it delivers the gore and blood, as they all do, it doesn’t resonate as well. It is written and directed by Patrick Horvath, who co-wrote with Dallas Hallam.

We then come to the previously mentioned The Way Out, where we segue back to the characters from the opening while telling the story of a young girl (Hassie Harrison) who is spending time with her parents (Gerald Downey and Kate Beahan) for the weekend before going off to school. The house they are renting comes under attack from some masked individuals, but the story doesn’t go where you expect and successfully brings us back to the films opening.

All the segments are well performed by it’s cast of relative unknowns (indie icon Larry Fessenden’s vocal performance aside) and not only provides some definite chills and thrills, but quite a lot of creepy imagery and blood-spattering gore.

Overall, I liked this flick. It’s disturbing and unsettling and doesn’t spoon-feed you all the answers…though pay attention and there are subtle clues to what might be going on and fun ways the stories connect. It’s no secret we are possibly watching a form of Hell were those inside are doomed to repeat their sins or suffer the consequences over and over, though there is indication one might free themselves from this unearthly loop by making the right choice. Either way, it’s a creepy, blood-soaked ride down an unnamed highway of horrors.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 highway signs on a road to nowhere.

southbound rating

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE PACT 2 (2014)

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THE PACT 2 (2014)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

I really enjoyed Nicholas McCarthy’s The Pact. It was a spooky little movie with some nice surprises and well-acted by it’s small cast. Obviously, I was hesitant that they were making a sequel without McCarthy’s involvement and while The Pact 2 doesn’t come close to the original, it was a moderately entertaining supernatural thriller.

The story takes place after the events of the last film and focuses on pretty crime scene cleaner June (Camilla Luddington) who is also an aspiring illustrator. June is having dreams about a woman named Ellie (Suziey Block) who is the recent victim of, what appears to be, a Judas Killer (Mark Steger) copy-cat. Without realizing it, she is drawing her dreams and revealing Ellie’s fate in her work. Worse still, an eccentric FBI agent (Patrick Fischler) feels she might be in danger due to a shocking connection to the original killer and one of his victims, Jennifer Glick. Finding no comfort from her policeman boyfriend (Scott Michael Foster), June turns to the one person who might be able to help, Annie Barlow (Caity Lotz), the woman who finally took the Judas Killer down. But, can either escape this new and unknown serial murderer…or the vengeful spirit of the original Judas Killer?

Written and directed by Dallas Richard Hallam and Patrick Horvath, this unnecessary sequel does have some spooky moments but, also gets a little convoluted by it’s end. Overall, it was moderately entertaining but, the writers do stretch things a bit to get their new character June, connected to the Judas Killer and it’s a bit cliché. Of course, having a policeman boyfriend and an FBI agent around is of no use to her and she has to investigate things on her own and with the help of Annie. This conveniently puts them both in harm’s way and even Ellie’s spirit giving them clues, doesn’t bring them all that closer to the killer. As for the copy-cat reveal, it comes out of nowhere and is there to add shock value and not make real sense. What helps the film is that, as directors, the pair do give the film some atmosphere and there are some genuinely spooky moments, as June is haunted by both, victim Ellie and serial killer Judas.

June is an interesting character and thought the rest of the cast are a bit flat, Luddington and the returning Caity Lotz are both likable and we wish the film had focused on their teamwork a bit more. Patrick Fischler’s FBI agent Ballard seems to only exist to provide exposition and suspicion and Foster’s cop boyfriend pops in and out of the story when needed. Like the original film, this focuses on a small central group of characters, mostly on it’s leading ladies.

So, this sequel passed the time and I was never bored though, there was little fresh or innovative. The filmmakers are far better directors than writers, as the script is a bit convoluted and cliché but, the film is atmospheric and has some creepy moments. Lead character June is likable as is Camilla Luddington in the part and it was nice to see Lotz return. There were some familiar faces and links to keep this from being a completely detached sequel though, we wish McCarthy had some involvement to make things mesh a bit better. Overall it’s worth a look but, go in with moderate expectations and don’t expect an equal to the enjoyable and spooky first film.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1/2 cute, creeped-out crime scene cleaners

The Pact 2 rating

 

 

 

 

 

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