V/H/S, to most people this movie is flying in under the radar. After a much documented showing at Sundance where 1 person was treated for fainting and another was seen leaving while vomitting, V/H/S already has that kind of buzz that a horror movie wants, but is it any good?
V/H/S is a collaboration between a bunch of directors, everyone taking charge of a single vhs tape. I’ll explain that set-up first before diving into all the various segments and their creators.
The story is, like mentioned in the synopsis, about a group of misfits who are hired to burglarize a desolate house. In a very hectic first 10 minutes we meet those guys going in, finding a room which contains a bunch of tapes and they start watching them.
Those of you who have their wits about them will start to see why it’s got a bunch of directors attached to this.
Every director has been given the assignment to shoot one ‘vhs tape’ and thus creating a bunch of different stories for us to watch and enjoy (or be frightened to death of).
Since the movie is made up out of segments, ill proceed in that same manner by discussing the movie per segment and finally rating it as a whole.
Tape 56 (main story arc)
Directed by Adam Wingard, this is the story that ties the rest of the tapes together. We follow a bunch of misfits going out filming all sorts of small crimes. Flashing a woman, destroying a house and finally moving on towards an abandoned place which contains a tape. An undisclosed guy has given one of the misfits the job of retrieving it for a reward. They go in and find a large stack of videotapes that they start watching, in between stories we watch their story progress, ultimately ending before the viewing of the final tape.
First up is David Bruckner (director of ‘The Signal’) who has made a by the numbers tale.
It’s about a bunch of guys who are going out clubbing, one of them has a pair of glasses with a videocamera in them, and from his first person perspective, we watch them going out; scoring with some girls and eventually taking them back to the hotel. Even though you can see the proceedings (and subsequent ‘twist’) coming from a mile away, the practical effects are brilliant.
From there on out we move to Ti West (director of ‘The Innkeepers’), his segment is easily the weakest of the bunch, taking a very clever idea and then executing it poorly. This also stars Joe Swanberg in one of the leads, who directs one of the other segments we’ll discuss in a few moments. Without spoiling your fun, I can say that once you’ve seen the 10 minute segment you’ll think about all the great stuff that could have been done with the core idea.
Tuesday the 17th
This short is directed by Glenn McQuaid and if my opinion matters in any way, shape or form, this is the worst entry. Based on a group of cliche horror characters (the hot girl, the dork, the jock and the mysterious girl) that go to the forest. This is just garbage horror. The effects are poor, the characters aren’t likeable and besides seeing a hot girl in a skimpy shirt, it’s not worth your time.
The Strange Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger
Ah yes, paranormal activity was missing from this list of horror shorts, and boy does director Joe Swanberg bring it. Made up entirely out of Skype conversations, Joe manages to create a story that’s scary, lifelike and differentiates itself from the recent batch of ‘paranormal’ movies by including some much needed gore as well. This is a very creepy ghost story that manages to surprise and captivate, especially if you’re fond of the whole ghost angle in general.
Four down, and the last one to provide us with scares is Radio Silence (which in itself is an ensemble of 4 LA based directors) who made a story about a haunted house. This is probably one of the strongest, if not the strongest effort, that has been made in V/H/S. The story is once more nothing we haven’t seen before, but the execution is good and the ending is great.
So there we have it, 6 stories, 5 tapes, and I couldn’t possibly be more divided in my opinion.
The found footage genre, which this clearly belongs too, has grown tired with a lot of people and rightfully so. V/H/S is a perfect example of the stuff that works and the stuff that doesn’t, early on when the movie starts out the amount of jumpy imagery along with some of the same idiotic situations where people keep filming, can be too much to handle. If you’re chased by ghosts, vampires, a psychotic murderer etc. you get rid of the camera you’re filming with and just start running. It’s precisely that which the Skype segment avoids. All of the other segments have this problem along with it being a relatively short span of time to establish characters and situations in.
Because of the difference in quality between the 5 tapes and the overall story offering absolutely no explanation as to why we’re seeing this or why they are doing it, the end result is a mixed bag.
I could see someone throwing up on a few scenes, or a person fainting on a reveal, but we mustn’t forget that there are people at the sundance festival that aren’t die hard horror buffs. If you just walked out of the latest Zac Efron movie into this, you’ll probably won’t expect the amount of gore that’s in here. So having said all that, I think V/H/S is a bunch of great ideas put into one somewhat attractive package. You’ll find something to love in here, but it’s not as great as it could have been.
What’s also worth noting is the fact that the pacing in this is horrible, in a regular horror movie we get a build-up, we establish characters, experience some horror, and if it’s a good movie, we’ll get a cleverly paced motion picture. Because of the segments in this, we go from slow horror to full frontal action (with the main story arc) then back to tension, followed by gore, back into slow proceedings. It’s inherent to a anthology picture like this, but it’s never the less another downside to V/H/S.
If you made it through this lengthy review: thanks!
And if you get the chance, scoop up V/H/S and see for yourself, it’s bound to give you some chills!
7.5 /10 stars!