Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, David Bruckner, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Chad Villella, Ti West, Adam Wingard
Starring: Calvin Reeder, Lane Hughes, Adam Wingard, Hannah Fierman, Mike Donlan
This collection is killer
V/H/S is a found footage anthology movie. It consists of five short stories with an arc story that surrounds them called “Tape 56”. In it we follow a group of douchebag friends who use their spare time to videotape themselves while exposing the breasts of females who happen to pass along their path and also just enjoy breaking random stuff that they find along their way. They get an job to break into a house and steal the videotapes from an old man who lives there. After breaking into the house they find a dead guy in the couch while the TV is still on and they split up to find the tapes they are after. In between finding and viewing the tapes, the dead guy starts to move and the criminal thugs are in great danger.
The arc story is not very good. The characters are idiots that we would want to see tortured and while the premise of finding vhs tapes consisting horrorific stuff is nice, it just could have done differently and much better.
The first tape we see is “Amateur Night”. It features three friends who are going out to party and hope to bring a few lovely ladies back to their hotel. One of them, Clint, is wearing a pair of special glasses with a hidden recording device so they can document all the fun activities that they have. At the end of a long night they have two females that are willing to come back with them.
This segment is quite good. While the guys, except Clint, seems like typical douchbags, they does not deserve what is coming to them. The girl creature Lily is both mesmerizing and beautiful at the same time. Hannah Fierman (God is Dead, The Hero of Time) was very good in the role and the direction by David Bruckner is on point. It’s a perfect little story for an anthology movie and a great start to this show.
The second tape is called “Second Honeymoon” and it is about the young couple Sam and Stephanie who are on their second honeymoon (title kind of gives that away huh?). While on a wild west attraction, Stephanie gets her fortune told by a mechanical machine and it says that she will have a visit by a former lover. The very same night some weird woman knocks on their hotel door and asks for a ride tomorrow. She comes off as a weirdo and the couple closes the door on her. Later on, someone is in their room filming them while they are sleeping.
This episode starts off nicely, but the end twist left a lot to be desired. It was not a fun or scary segment and it just feels pointless. Ti West, who have proven himself to be a young and promising horror director with The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers, sets the mood right and the characters are realistic, but it just sadly lacks any point to it, at least that I could pick up.
The third tape is called “Tuesday the 17th”, which is a little spoof on Friday the 13th both on title and content. Four friends go out in the woods and they videotape their trip. On the tape, weird glimpses of bodies start to appear and one of the girls named Wendy starts to say a lot of disturbing stuff, including that they will all die in these woods and soon enough something is haunting them and trying to kill them off.
This has also been called “the glitch killer” online since the killer is made up of glitches on the videotape. It’s not a good segment and very amateurish. It reminded me of a lot of shot on video slasher movies that came out in the late 90’s, which I hated.
The fourth tape has the long title of “The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger”. It’s filmed through webcam sessions between the cute young girl Emily and her boyfriend James. Emily is complaining about strange occurrences in her apartment at night and also some bump she has on her arm. She thinks there might be ghosts in her apartment and she calls up James to help her before she goes insane.
This was not a bad segment. It gets creepy and the twist was surprising. It could have used some more work on the story and should have been better told. It is sort of hard to figure out what really happened here and what everything meant, but it is still entertaining and not a bad entry.
The fifth and last segment is called “10/31/98”. It’s Halloween and a group of friends are going to a party. When they arrive at the house where the party is supposed to be, they don’t find anyone else. They do however find a lot of fun stuff there and believe that the house is a haunted attraction spot for the Halloween party. However they soon hear screams from upstairs where they find a girl tied up and some men around who seems to be assaulting her. They first believe that this is a joke, but when the men starts to threaten them aswell they figure out that this is for real and they try to save the girl.
This segment is filled with creepy ghost activities and is quite nice. It does use a lot of effects which have been done plenty of times before like hands coming out of walls and floor, but it works well and the atmosphere remains good during the entire segment. It’s the best segment of the five together with Amateur Night. I think most horror fans will find this one to be enjoyable.
While I do rate these individual, the way this entire thing is made makes everything feel connected together. I think that it would have benefitted greatly from having a different arc story and also if it had been cut down from its nearly two-hour long running time. They could have cut out either the entire “Tuesday the 17th” or “Second Honeymoon” to make it flow better and have more consistent quality.
They are trying to create a VHS look here, but the concept doesn’t make that much sense considering one of the segments is shot with a nanny cam, another on webcam and a third on high-tech glasses. Why would anyone take the trouble to convert any of these into old school videotapes? Would make more sense to just burn it onto a CD/DVD instead of keep it as a data file. The only one that has a very VHS look is Tuesday the 17th and the story arc.
This collection is interesting and does bring something new to the found footage subgenre. It is a nice way to show creativity of young up and coming filmmakers. I would not be surprised if V/H/S sparked a sequel and if it does then I hope it takes the title more seriously and films it on video. V/H/S is worth seeing, mainly for the first and last segment.