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Southern Comfort

Southern Comfort
(1981) - Directed by Walter Hill
Survival / Thriller / Southern Gothic
"I got reason to be paranoid and so do you!"

I'm not a fan of Walter Hill. I've seen 48 Hours, The Warriors and The Driver only to find them all overrated. Hill seems to rely on stylizing tropes to tell his stories, while also currently relying on nostalgia for ratings. Among other Walter Hill movies I've seen are Geronimo, Wild Bill and Madso's War. So I didn't really have high hopes for Southern Confort, despite liking the posters. But it was a bolded film on Rateyourmusic and Walter Hill's only bolded one (meaning it's one of the top 5,000 or so movies there, maybe 10,000. So that was my next one.

Southern Comfort is a thriller about a group of Louisiana Guard soldiers going to a bayou for a training exercise. During the exercise, they steel some canoes owned by Cajuns and piss them off. One of the men is stupid enough to fire blanks at them, and the set traps, dogs and many other terrors on the group to kill them all off one by one. And the tension is pushing the group to turn against each other, and maybe even go crazy. This is easily a movie for fans of Deliverance.

**** Deliverance, we got Southern Comfort. The enemy, hiding in the shadows of the swamps, are more threatening than they look for their incredible booby traps and effective scare tactics. You don't even need to see them to be scared and threatened by them. That's one trick the Xenomorph didn't pull off without being seen occasionally. And the best part is that all of these thrills get better as the movie goes along, authentic in nature due to the swamplands beautiful and haunting presence. One may never look at jungle green the same way again. Anything good that happened in the middle of that swampland could have been another horrible trap, and I was scared shitless for the remaining cast by the end.

Southern Comfort is a truly effective thriller that relies on using the swamplands themselves to build up the tension before utilizing jump-scares which are truly shocking because these traps are both plausible and realistic-looking onscreen. The authenticity of the swamplands is matched by the cajun town present in the film's third act, and they don't hold back with even the more disturbing aspects of hick culture, like the execution of meat. And the end is just a real banger, one of the most exciting endings I've ever seen.

Let's not forget the acting quality. Everyone member of the lead cast did a four-star job for what they were given to work with. The characters aren't the most well-developed, but they are fun to watch on screen due to charisma mingling with the tension of their attempts at survival. At the front of this cast is Keith Carradine as the calm and intelligent Spencer, who's surrounded by a cast with just enough talents to butt heads with him. This especially works on the psychological background in which several characters are nearly going crazy from the horrific experiences in the swamplands.

Southern Comfort might be lacking in character development, so if it had some more of that it would've been a 100 on my list. I might've even put it in my top 10. But it didn't have enough, so it's not quite a five-star. But this is one of the coolest and most thrilling things I've ever seen, as well as one of the most realistic. I remember my first rated-R movies when I was a preteen, and I honestly feel like this is a movie I would show my 11-year-old. After watching a few of his movies, including most of his best, Walter Hill has done something that I feel is underrated in stark contrast to the Hill films I found overrated. I don't even think you can easily remake this.

= 90/100

Walter Hill's Average Score (6 Good vs. 1 Bad)

Southern Comfort: 90
The Driver: 78
48 Hours: 71
The Warriors: 63
Geronimo: 61

Top Movies Average Score: 72.6 / 5