Run time: 116 min
Director: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, David Bruckner
Writers: Brad Miska, Simon Barrett
Stars: Calvin Reeder, Lane Hughes, Adam Wingard
A POV, found footage horror film from the perspective of America’s top genre filmmakers. A group of misfits are hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house in the countryside and acquire a rare tape. Upon searching the house, the guys are confronted with a dead body, a hub of old televisions and an endless supply of cryptic footage, each video stranger than the last. Written by Anonymous
|Plot Keywords: vhs, found footage, filming, anthology, television|
Release Date: 18 January 2013 (UK)
Opening Weekend: $36,402 (USA) (5 October 2012)
Gross: $99,770 (USA) (9 November 2012)
Listen, the only way to truly enjoy a horror film is in a large, pitch black room with deafening surround sound and a group of people just as scared as you are. Other times, a laptop works too. But I, and a group of about 100 others were privileged to catch the first Canadian premiere of V/H/S presented by the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. Enough plugs, onto the film right? My review. See it! If you love horror, if you hate horror, if you think you might like it and wanna try it out, just see it! Without spoiling anything I will say that there are about 5 or 6 anthology stories tied around a main story in which four guys break into a house to look for a specific video tape. They find a lot more, let me tell you. Some of the segments are better than others (trust me, you'll know which ones) but overall, V/H/S is one of the most imaginative, jolting, riveting, heart-beating-outside-of-your-chest-because-its-so-intense horror films of recent time. Fans of Creepshow 1 and 2, Tales From the Darkside, Twilight Zone (the movie) and even Stephen King, if you get the chance to watch V/H/S, do it! It's bloody, it's scary, it's haunting, and if you're anything like me, you'll know it scared you when it's 1:43 in the morning and the only thing you can do to make yourself fall asleep, is to review the film on IMDb.
What we have in V/H/S are a bunch of prolonged horror moments that in usual cases would be the climax to any average horror movie. The movie manages to throw 5 of these 'money shots' at the viewer without the need to tell any real story, build any of the characters or introduce their personality's to the audience. Whether this is a stroke of genius originality or just laziness is the question.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that V/H/S is the result a brain storming session where five writers pitched five stories, with one 'Eureka' moment of making a movie of the ending of all five. What they seemingly failed to spend any real time on though was the glue to bind the five stories together. It is completely irrelevant, in fact I would go as far as to say the movie would be better without it, a "Here are five tapes that were found, now watch them" instead.
I have to say I am a fan of 'found footage movies'. To me they achieve the desired effect and can, at times, create some truly chilling moments. This movie does have it's moments but after a while it all gets to much, the 'found footage' angle is somehow lost with the constant change of story. You are never really allowed to reach the same level of suspense as with other films in this genre.
6/10. It passed the time but I eventually found myself wanting it to end and asking myself "How many stories to go?"
Some folks might be a little deterred from seeing V/H/S when they learn it's a found footage movie. Well, rest assured, there's nothing to worry about as this is an excellent example of the sub-genre. Perhaps at the root of the film's success is its structural format. It's an anthology movie, made up of a selection of short stories based around a series of videotapes found by burglars at a scary house. While some of the segments are better than others, where this one scores is that even the weaker stories contain some very scary moments. Each and every one delivers the goods in this respect and that's half the battle when it comes to horror flicks. The different stories are basically disturbing in the way that the best found footage flicks are, in that we are literally put right into the shoes of these people and their terror transmits more easily.
I won't reveal many details of the contents but, amongst other things, there is a vampire, malevolent ghosts, a supernatural serial killer, a house invader and a weird ritual. There's a skillful combination of visceral and suggested horror. From the former there are several scenes of blood and guts including a beheading by knife and some disembowellings. But it's the mysterious moments that create the genuine tension, such as sinister figures seen briefly on camera, strange sounds and general weird goings on. The combination with both styles of horror is very successful. Overall, I have to say that this is a rather fine example of a recent horror film. It's genuinely unsettling quite often and the anthology format means that no idea overstays its welcome. It's definitely worth catching this one.
Really a massive disappointment. I had read over on a blog that this film would "restore my faith in horror films". I read all over the internet about just how great this film was. So I spent ten dollars to view it last night.
The found footage idea isn't wholly a terrible idea, the problem is that it just doesn't usually work. By usually, I mean ever. Horror as a genre has been falling apart at the seams for years, and the advent of "found- footage" certainly hasn't helped. In fact, it feels like it's making a mockery out of horror rather than restoring it to glory.
Enough about that. Regarding the film: The first problem we get here is that the writers/directors have two hours to piece together six cohesive stories. That's fine, but if that's the case, we need to only focus on the important stuff here. Half the time, you'll feel like you're watching some stranger's home movie collection. It's drab, it's boring, it doesn't serve to build suspense, it just drags. You see, when we only get twenty minutes with characters, we don't give a hoot about what they're like. All footage should serve the story, and it just doesn't here. So yes, a lot of the film dragged and a lot of the film was boring.
The second huge problem: the scary stuff. There isn't enough of it. There isn't enough that was supposed to be there in the first place, and most of what you get is just goofy. There were a few jump scares that weren't done all that effectively due to some of the worst camera work the world has ever seen. We understand that this is supposed to be amateur shot footage. That doesn't mean people film themselves walking around with friends while wildly waving their arms around like a complete lunatic. So when you aren't sure what you're looking at and your eyes are constantly struggling to adjust, the few jump scares that were put in the film no longer serve a purpose.
I'm not sure if my next complaint should be lodged against the actors or the writers. Maybe both? All of the characters, I mean ALL of the characters, are incredibly unlikable or plain bothersome. There's a character that basically just cackles through an entire story. There's a character that has no personality aside from leaving her mouth agape at all times. So yeah, the acting was pretty bad, but the writing was probably the worst part of the whole thing. One story in particular was such a joke on the writing front, we couldn't contain our laughter watching it. Not because it was supposed to be funny either.
So here we have six basically nonsensical and incomprehensible stories that lack direction, character, motivations or scares and we throw it all together to create one low-res pile of crap. We have scenes that make NO SENSE in regards to how it ended up on a VHS tape, uninspired concepts, terrible camera work, and just terrible writing.
Here is another Paranormal Activity: TONS of hype, great press and reviews, but underneath all of that is a really uniquely awful film. I'm serious; I thought it was really that bad. Uniquely awful in just how inept and uninspired it is.
Want a compilation horror film that tries to tackle a few sub-genres of horror? Try Trick-R-Treat. It wasn't anything spectacular, but it was enjoyable and well written. V/H/S is something I hope dies and people forget about by Christmas. What an awful, awful film.