The new horror movie Southbound shares with 2012’s V/H/S both the anthology format and a number of directors: David Bruckner (The Signal) and the filmmaking collective Radio Silence. But Southbound abandons the earlier film’s found footage format while also linking its tales of terror together thanks to a clutch of characters who appear in more than one story.
“The whole thing was collaborative,” says Radio Silence member Chad Villella of the project, which also features segments directed by V/H/S producer Roxanne Benjamin and Entrance filmmaker Patrick Horvath. “Everyone was in constant communication, which was nice for an anthology.”
In addition to co-directing one of the segments, Villella also stars in Radio Silence’s tale which, like the rest of the movie, is set on and around a desert road and looks like it was a spectactularly hot yarn to film.
“We shot in the middle of this valley out in the southern Mojave [Desert] and, yeah, it was hot,” he says. “On top of that, our wardrobe person had me in a leather jacket. I’m like, ‘I’m sweating balls right now!’ I was so hot.”
Below, Villella and Bruckner talk more about Southbound, which receives its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Wednesday at midnight.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did Southbound come about?
CHAD VILLELLA: We stay in touch with (V/H/S producer) Brad MIska, he’s actually a good friend of ours. He was like, “I have an idea to do another anthology movie.” His idea was originally called Subgenre. He wanted each director to take a different subgenre and make the movie that way. We ended up being like, “Well, how about we come up with a cohesive storyline and connect it throughout.” We worked with Brad on developing the story to what eventually became Southbound.
Could you tease your respective segments for our readers?
DAVE BRUCKNER: Well, “The Accident” is about an accident. It’s the story of a guy, he’s trying to go home, late-night drive, talking to his wife on the phone, a little bit distracted, and is maybe the cause of something terrible that happens. The movie explores how far you would be willing to go to undo what you had done. It’s pretty nightmarish.
CV: So, we start with ours, and we want to ask a lot of questions, and leave them open-ended purposefully. There’s two guys, bloody, you don’t know where they’re coming from, and we wanted to ask the question of, “What have these guys been through?” Also, we wanted you to feel sympathetic for the guys at the beginning. I don’t want to give away too much, but at the end [of the film] you might have a different take on them as individuals.
What lessons did you learn from V/H/S which you applied to Southbound?
DB: V/H/S was such a blast because we had so much freedom to do what we wanted. When you’re doing a short film like that in an anthology context you can really take some creative risks that you couldn’t if you were bearing the burden of an entire feature. But with this, 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.
You’re calling from Toronto, where the film is premiering tomorrow as part of the festival’s Midnight Madness strand. What is the mood in the Southbound camp? Are you nervous? Excited?
CV: I feel great. I think it’s going to be fun. The Midnight Madness crowd is a rowdy bunch. This movie is made for the midnight audience. I can’t wait.
DB: We went to the last two screenings at midnight just to really get a feel for the crowd and the energy is insane. The people there are wanting to have a good time, and wanting to enjoy the movie, and the whole experience. It’s an incredible enrvironment to be in, as a filmmaker. This is the audience you want to premiere for. So, we’re super stoked about that.
Who is the most famous person you’ve seen so far at Toronto?
CV: Jason Bateman was on our flight. That was a good one. I was like, “Oh, great, he has to wait for his luggage — just like us!”
You can see an exclusive image from Southbound, above.
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