Southern Comfort 1981 ★★★★★

Walter Hill presents a group of unprofessional soldiers in a military exercise gone wrong. The score is wildly atmospheric and the setting is claustrophobic.

The setup is a little off-kilter as the characters personalities slowly reveal themselves. The cast don’t easily fall into specific clichéd types. As the drama develops the rivalries emerge as do the group dynamics and issues surrounding leadership.

The film manages to never feel that it is devolving into slasher territory. In part this is due the villains remaining mostly invisible and providing few reaction shots.

The apparent symbolism was something I was unaware of but provides an added layer to the film. The climax with the festivities and then a great slow-motion to freeze frame ending is magical.

The Reverence: Metal genitalia beats out the use of trees as a weapon.

8 Comments

  • Such a cool film. Love the ending.

  • I agree the characterisation was a highlight.
    What is the symbolism you mention?

  • The characterisation had a Carpenter feel.

    People seem to go to town on a Vietnam allegory. From the blank ammunition, attitude of the soldiers, to the unfamiliar surroundings. Strangely, Walter Hill denies this.

  • I could see that, it would be hard to make a film about the ineptness of American military in 1981 without that association being in your mind. Still, I was a little confused about the nature of these guys ... they seemed like a civilian outfit?

  • That confused me as well. The fun thing is the allegory can work and it is even more fun that Hill denies this. Being so far removed for the era, it is great that the film can be enjoyed on its own terms and not solely for what it represents.

    Then some people read too much into films. There is a wild theory that it was a training exercise for a Special-Ops team. It would be brilliant if that level of possibility did exist.

  • Yeah, and it would be crap to have your film reduced to being about Vietnam, when it is really about war which is much more universal and interesting.

    The soldiers were comically misfit and inept. It had to be some type of civilian troop. Do you mean there is a theory that the making of the film was a training exercise in reality?

  • I have no idea what your sentence means. It is a mindfuck!

  • Ha, I think understanding my sentence requires you to undersand my misunderstanding of what you wrote in the first place!

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