These found footage movies are getting out of hand, aren’t they? This gimmick, which started off as a horror sub-genre, has been being used in comedies and superhero films now. It also seems like Horror anthologies are coming back too. Which brings us to V/H/S, which is both a horror anthology and an entry into the found footage canon. Now, for the record, I will state that I’m not the biggest horror fan. I have loved horror films in the past, but because they were well made films. I don’t like a horror movie because it’s a horror movie, like many many fans of the genre. So if I like a horror film… that must mean it’s amazing! All right. On with the show!
So we have 5 segments and 1 wrap around segment (making it 6 in total). The wrap around begins with a bunch of assholes going around filming pranks and stuff (not unlike jackass). They also film amateur porn as well. For some reason, they have to break into a house because someone told them that they need to find a VHS tape. When they get in the house, they find some old dead dude sitting in a chair in front of a blank TV screen. They also find a room with tons of VHS tapes, so they decide to watch them to find the one they’re looking for, except that doesn’t make any sense since they don’t know what is on the tape that they are supposed to find. But, whatever! I guess they needed to have some excuse to have these segments. Oh yeah, and the whole time they’re in the house searching, it’s shot by 2 guys with cameras following them around. I think there are four dudes all together, but it wasn’t so clear to me.
The first segment is by far the best one. Surprisingly, it’s made by the same guy who made the mediocre THE SIGNAL. This one opens like an amateur POV porn video as a guy wears big nerd glasses equipped with a camera as he and his buddies try to pick up drunk chicks at a bar and bring them back to the hotel for a gang bang. The characters aren’t very likable, but the execution of the payoff is exceptional. I don’t really want to spoil it since it is the only good one, but it seamlessly blends handheld photography and some pretty convincing gore and effects when the video doesn’t go as, um, planned. It’s really the only one that genuinely creeped me out. The acting is also the best in this one.
The second starts off promising. It has a likable couple (okay, only the girl is likable cause the guy’s a douche) on a vacation that videotape each other. But things get weird when a mysterious woman begins to break into their hotel and videotape them in their sleep as she holds knives to their sleeping faces. This segment, directed by the talented Ti West (HOUSE OF THE DEVIL) should’ve been awesome, especially with the decent setup, but it ends very abruptly with a bloody sequence this is forced and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
The third is easily my least favorite. It’s a typical horror film plot. Kids go into the woods to stay at a cabin and then get stalked by a killer. And of course they videotape the entire event, but the weird thing is that the killer can’t be taped, as its image is constantly blurred. Lots of gore and lots of stupid people in this one. It was like they recruited the cast from the FRIDAY THE 13TH remake. Garbage.
The 4th is what I like to call the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY ripoff. This one shows a couple video-chatting with each other online. The girl is convinced that her apartment is haunted and is determined to show her boyfriend the events by carrying around her laptop in the dark trying to reveal the evidence. Again, this one has an intriguing premise, but then the payoff is really out there. I don’t mind strange, weird Cronenberg-like stuff, but I didn’t even really understand this. When I don’t understand something, I check out. On the bright side, the actress, Helen Rogers, is an adorable presence and is the best actor in the movie. Keep an eye on her. I wouldn’t even mind using her for some of my film projects. Oh yeah, you also get to see her awesome boobies, but that’s not the reason why she’s good. She is genuinely a good actress.
The 5th one starts off being the worst one, but ends up being the second best one, which isn’t saying much cause I still didn’t like it. A group of douchebags (why, oh why does every character in horror films have to be douchebags?!?) tape themselves as they attend a Halloween party in 1998. When they get to the party, it’s abandoned. But then they go upstairs and find some kind of devil worshiping ceremony as a bunch of dudes are about to sacrifice some girl. The guys rescue her as the cult dudes get carried away by some unseen force. Then they try to bring her to a hospital, but of course, they’re not in the clear yet. The effects in this one are quite impressive, like reaching hands coming out of the wallpaper in the house, and objects shifting around, but again, if the premise isn’t completely convincing, neither is the rest of the movie. In the end, it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Then we get those wrap around sequences. Man, they just don’t make sense. So when these guys are watching these tapes, they magically disappear for no reason. It’s all building up to some big reveal or explanation since this is supposed to be the main plot. But no. The movie just ends after the 5th sequence. It was frustrating. Also, what the hell was up with the dude with the fake mustache? I mean, that didn’t look real. It didn’t look like a character. It looked like an actor with a mustache trying to look different then he normally looks like to play a fictional character. Didn’t buy it. And why did all these characters have to be jerks? The reason why THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT worked so much was because you genuinely cared for the characters. In this, they’re all assholes!
I know you’re not supposed to take these types of movies seriously or look for logic in them, but I couldn’t help but be bothered by many things that weren’t clear to me. So is this movie taking place in the modern-day? If so, then it doesn’t make sense since no one uses video cameras any more, let alone have VHS players hooked up to their television. And if it’s supposed to take place in the past, every guy looks like a douchebag with spiky hair from 2009. It just isn’t believable that everyone would be recording stuff on VHS tapes. If so, then this should take place in the early 90’s. I even bought a mini DV camera in the late 90’s, so VHS was already on its way out. They also over-did the static during the VHS recordings. I’m sorry, but a regular VHS recording doesn’t have THAT much static when watching it. Maybe every once in a while. I have old VHS recordings of me and some buddies from High School in 1993 and those don’t have that much static. It’s like the filmmakers were like, “We have to make sure that the audience knows that these are videotaped recordings, so let’s make it really static.” It probably sounded like a good idea, but it just ends up feeling very artificial.
For some reason, horror fans (especially the AINITCOOLNEWS crowd) have been eating this movie up. Sometimes I just don’t understand horror fans. So if you like this sort of thing, you might possibly enjoy it. I’m curious to see what our own FILM GEEK CENTRAL writer Scott Davis thinks of it, as he’s a big horror hound. I did like the first segment, but the others are the reasons why I normally dislike many entries from the horror genre. It’s an interesting concept, but unfortunately it just falls apart. ★½ (out of ★★★★)
- Rated R for bloody violence, strong sexuality, nudity, pervasive language and some drug use.
- Running time: 1hr 56min.