Southern Gothic is an unusual low-budget horror film, in that it attempts to do more than just serve up gore and nudity, a recourse that lesser filmmakers than director and writer Steve Sessions have taken refuge in. But Sessions instead goes for intelligent storytelling and also conjures up a wonderfully macabre atmosphere.
The story centres around paranormal investigator Frank Griffin (Jeff Dylan Graham) is called to the home of the Baxter's, a reasonably wealthy Southern American couple, who are suffering a haunting. As Frank begins his paranormal investigations he starts to believe that there is more to the haunting than meets the eye and begins a little extra-curricular detective work and uncovers a truth that carries a high price…
Steve Sessions handles the material extremely well and tells the story at a decent pace. The actors all give good performances and there are some deliciously unpleasant set-pieces. Other low-budget filmmakers would do well to learn from someone like Steve Sessions, who is very able at creating atmospheres and understands that sometimes less is more. That's not to say there isn't any splattering of the red stuff - there is, but it's cleverly done. More importantly, it's never overdone.
Admittedly, I have seen better films, but I have to give Sessions his due in working on an obviously low-budget - and he does so admirably, bringing in a well-crafted and enjoyable movie. The story isn't exactly original, and the twist was pretty obvious - but at least Sessions handled it well and it wasn't obvious until fairly near the reveal.
Overall it's a good movie and kept me interested up until the end credits rolled, so it couldn't have been that bad! Though there were some slow parts, if I'm honest - particularly near the start of the movie. And if I had any complaint, it would be that the film is a little over 'talky' at times. However, if you want something a little different and non-Hollywood, you could do worse than this. Just don't go in expecting big budget production values or George Lucas-style FX. But if you're a horror fan, like me, you might well find it an entertaining 90 minutes.
Crypt Keeper have presented the film fullframe (presumably the original ratio) and it's a very clean and sharp transfer - though the occasional scene suffered from a kind of 'grid' effect, but I suspect this is down to the materials and not the authoring. Bear in mind, though, this problem is very, very infrequent and doesn't detract from the viewing experience - but as a reviewer it would be remiss of me not to mention it. The stereo audio is full and powerful and the dialogue is always clear and audible. It's a very nice soundmix, actually.
Also on the disc, in the way of extras, is a short film by Steve Sessions called Have You Seen Me? This tells of a young woman who thinks she has spotted a child who is presumed missing and follows him back to a house - only this house would appear to be a trap. It's a clever short and very dark in both tone and content - so I obviously enjoyed it! Also included are 3 trailers for various films. So whilst not exactly bursting with extras, there is at least something here of interest.
Overall what we have here is an interesting and enjoyable example of fringe, low-budget filmmaking presented on a decent DVD. Like I say, it's not the greatest movie you're ever likely to see, but that's no reason to avoid it. If you get a chance to watch it, then give it a go.
Review by C J Otter
|Released by Crypt Keeper|
|Region All - PAL|
|see main review|