South of Heaven (Blu-ray)

February 24, 2022 5 Min Read

Review by: Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

Not often known for his dramatic roles, South of Heaven finds Jason Sudeikis in a more serious turn. The film is most effective if going in fresh to see the way the plot unfolds. When I discuss the plot I will tread very carefully, but the performances help elevate what might be a more forgettable film otherwise.

We meet James “Jimmy Ray” (Jason Sudeikis) who has been recently released from prison to return to his love, Annie (Evangeline Lilly). Sadly, she is dying of cancer, and with James having been in prison, they never had the chance to marry. The two of them intend to do just that. His parole officer Schmidt (Shea Whigham) seems to be stern but puts the basic rule that if James gives no trouble, he will get no trouble. All seems to be going well until Schmidt comes at James needing a favor. This isn’t exactly the sort of favor that James can refuse since it’s clear Schmidt will set him up if he doesn’t cooperate. James does what Schmidt asks, but things become complicated when he has an encounter with a motorcyclist on the road which results in a death and eventual coverup. Things become further complicated when local crime boss Whit Price (Mike Colter) shows up. He is demanding the large sum of money that has gone missing from the motorcyclist, which James claims to know nothing about.

South of Heaven builds slowly (maybe a bit too slowly for some) toward its inevitable showdown. Indeed, it earns those moments. It could’ve used some tightening in its first half, but it throws enough at us to keep us hooked till the end. I left out enough plot points to let the audience discover for themselves, but it’s a mostly effective little drama with enough tension to keep things interesting. A couple plot points aren’t explained entirely, but the gist of the story is complete by the time the credits begin to roll.

Video: How’s it look?

The wider 2.35:1 gives room to display some of the nice shots here. Some of the earlier moments showcase the countryside background, but this is a pretty basic transfer to be sure. It’s one of those that looks good enough to not be distracting, but nothing you’d show off your system with.

Audio: How’s it sound?

The DTS HD track is as one would expect. Vocals are fine and dominate the front, but the actions scenes are what stand out the most. When needed, the track comes alive. Like the transfer, this serves the film appropriately.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Meet the Cast – A basic 6-minute feature that gives us some cast interviews. It isn’t particularly deep, but it’s worth a viewing.
  • The Making of South of Heaven – With only 5 minutes at its disposal, this still provides enough decent information to warrant checking out – once.

The Bottom Line

I like films like this that sort of fall between the cracks. There was a time maybe ten plus years ago that this would’ve probably had a small theatrical release and got moderate attention, but times have changed. The performances are the big selling point. The film is worth a rental and the plot kept me with it. It could’ve used a bit more energy in the first half, but had enough pros to justify checking out.

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