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V/H/S (2012)

  Tags: A.D. Calvo, Adam Wingard, anthology, Bradley Miska, Calvin Reeder, Chad Villella, David Bruckner, found footage, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Kate Lyn Sheil, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Nicholas Tecosky, pov, Radio Silence, Salient Media, Simon Barrett, Sophia Takal, Ti West, Tyler Gillett

Your rating: None Average: 7.9 (20 votes)
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Adam Wingard, Ti West, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, Joe Swanberg
96 minutes
Calvin Reeder, Lane Hughes, Adam Wingard, Hannah Fierman, Mike Donlan, Joe Sykes, Drew Sawyer, Jas Sams, Joe Swanberg, Sophia Takal, Kate Lyn Sheil, Drew Moerlein, Jason Yachanin, Helen Rogers, Chad Villella, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Paul Natonek, Nicole Erb, Eric Curtis, Nicole Boccumini, Lisa Marie Thomas, Melinda Fleming

With all the found footage/POV-type films to come out lately, it was only a matter of time before an anthology was introduced. Thus, we have V/H/S a new low-budget collection of found footage horror tales that looked promising from the trailer, but unfortunately ended up being more of a disappointment than anything. One of the biggest issues I had being its gimmicky use of the VHS format, which made no sense when it came to each of the stories.

The flick introduces us to a group of criminals lugging around a large VHS camcorder as they assault women and vandalize houses. Apparently they make these tapes and sell'em to people, which catches the eye of someone who hires these guys to break into a home and steal a single VHS tape. They take on the job (naturally bringing the bulky camcorder along with them) and begin their hunt for the tape. This is the start of the wraparound segment, where the guys find the owners mysterious corpse on a recliner that's seated in front of several old television sets and tapes. Each story begins with one of the guys putting in a new tape.

Amateur Night by David Bruckner

The first segment begins with a couple obnoxious fratboy-type friends and their more conservative nerdish companion (who wears glasses with a hidden camera in it) as they drink, party, and bring back a couple wasted chicks to their motel room. With the exception of the strange wide-eyed girl that keeps whispering nonsense to our lead with the camera, all seems to be going according their debauturous plans. That is, until one girl passes out and the wide-eyed one sprouts fangs and starts chowing down on one of the dudes (hate when that happens!).

I wasn't into this story until towards the end when the girl starts ripping the guys to shreds, because up until that point it was just a bunch of nonstop laughing and drinking, with some shaky camera and quick-editing nonsense. Aside from the dweeb with the hidden camera, I hated the other two characters. Once the girl revealed her true intentions, the story became much more interesting and it turned out to be one of the more creative pieces in the bunch. Though, the explanation as to how the hell the footage from the glasses turned up on VHS is beyond me. This is actually a question you'll be asking yourself at the end of each story, because it makes NO SENSE.

Second Honeymoon by Ti West

Probably the worst story in the collection, this tale starts out realistically enough with a young couple on a road trip. They decide to record their journey across the country, but find themselves being stalked by a mysterious assailant in a hoody and mask. Unfortunately for them they don't realize this until it's too late. That's about it.

This started out promising, but it's incredibly abrupt and confusing climax made the viewer feel like they've completely wasted their time. Seriously Ti? What was the point!? I'll admit the finale to this story was pretty shocking, but that's about all it was. So much more could've been done with this, especially with the whole motel and stalking angle. I was really disappointed in this one.

Tuesday the 17th by Glenn McQuaid

This third segment revolves around a group of friends as they make their way to a secluded lake for a little party and relaxation time. What they find instead is a killer that's eagerly awaiting to murder each and every one of them. Wow, this one's just oozing with originality!

It's painfully obvious that this tale was simply a parody of the Friday the 13th films, only with a more modernized twist by using this whole found footage sub-genre. As unoriginal as it was, I actually found myself enjoying it. The pacing was good and the killer was actually pretty neat, because we never actually got to see him. Whenever he showed up on camera the footage became distorted, specifically around the killer himself, which seemed to give him a supernatural aspect that I thought was cool. Too bad there wasn't much story to it, otherwise, it might've turned out to be one of the better entries.

The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger by Joe Swanberg

This fourth entry is all completely done over some form of video chat, with essentially only two characters. We have the boyfriend and the girlfriend, both of which are separated by thousands of miles due to the girl attending school. She's adjusted herself into her new apartment, which she believes is haunted, so the whole story basically just plays out with the guy video chatting with the girl whenever something supernatural occurs. By the end of this story you'll likely be left scratching her head, because it's the most ambiguous of all of them.

This was pretty much a Paranormal Activity ripoff, but done completely over video chat. I found it to be boring and not scary at the least bit. The whole thing is just the GF moving her laptop around as the boyfriend witnesses weird events like some little girl running to close a door or standing in the darkness from afar. It's all been seen and done before, but it ended a bit different than expected. In fact, it ended really fucking confusing. Either way, this is another story that makes you wonder how it ended up on a VHS tape, but I digress.

10/31/98 by Radio Silence

They saved the best for last, as this fifth and final segment definitely delivers in all aspects. We follow a group of guys as they get together for a Halloween party. Our lead guy dons a cheesy bear outfit suited with a Nanny Cam to deliver the goods to us viewers. The guys reach what they believe is the house to discover that it's empty. Upon further investigation they hear noises coming from the attic, where they find what appears to be some sort of exorcism going on. Thinking it's all part of the act, they laugh it off, but quickly realize that it isn't a game.

I really dug this story the most because it was fast paced and actually had some creepy moments when they entered the house. The concept was pretty fresh and the CG used was decent. Even the ending was well played out. All-in-all, it was definitely the best of all. Still, how'd it end up on VHS? We will never know..

The stories were hit and miss, but the wraparound segment was probably the worst of all. It just made absolutely no sense, and ended really shitty. Like I said before, the whole VHS aspect to his film was just one big gimmick and how or why these stories would make it onto this old tape format remains a mystery. Regardless, the movie as a whole was an interesting experiment and although it wasn't as good as I had hoped, it was a step in the right direction.

After witnessing the promising and fast paced trailer, I was ultimately disappointed with V/H/S. Like most anthologies it had less than a few "good" tales in the bunch, as there was only one story I truly liked, with another two being decent at best. I was also saddened to see that the whole VHS format turned out to be one big gimmick and the wraparound story being one of the worst excuses to start an anthology I've ever seen. Negative aside, it kept my interest for the most part and I admire the attempted creativity each director offered. It's just too bad not all of them succeeded. Found footage fans will likely enjoy this to a certain extent, while those looking for a good anthology pic (like me) may end up disappointed.

Posted on August 7, 2012 - 4:04pm | FrighT MasteR