V/H/S Movie Review
Written by Charlotte Stear
Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, David Bruckner, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Chad Villella, Ti West and Adam Wingard
Written by Simon Barrett, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, David Bruckner, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, Glenn McQuaid, Nicholas Tecosky, Chad Villella, Ti West
2012, 116 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Calvin Reeder as Gary
Lane Hughes as Zak
Adam Wingard as Rock
Hannah Fierman as Lily
Mike Donlan as Shane
Joe Sykes as Patrick
Drew Sawyer as Clint
Jas Sams as Lisa
Another film that yours truly had the opportunity to check out this summer at the Toronto After Dark screenings was the highly anticipated and much talked about V/H/S which made its UK debut at this year’s FrightFest.
V/H/S has an incredibly interesting format that was always going to get people talking. The film surrounds a group of young deviants who take pleasure in videotaping all their grim shenanigans. The group are offered a job in which the only thing they have to do is go to a house and bring back a video tape. This isn’t as easy as they first anticipated as once they get there, they find there are many tapes. Unsure which one they need, they decide to watch them, but once they hit play they are stunned by the terrors that greet them on screen. What makes this film so interesting is that each short film they are watching on VHS is written and directed by a different person. With names like Ti West and Radio Silence attached to it, expectations were understandably going to be high.
This is a really great concept for a film and horror anthologies are generally a lot of fun. It’s original and has the potential to be truly terrifying, but the expectation of the potential is where the disappointment lies. Instead of five segments that could have scared us to the core, we have five short films that only leave us cold and confused. There is the odd exception, Ti West’s portion Second Honeymoon has its chilling moments before it fails in its last few minutes and Radio Silence’s finale 10/31/98 has a great haunted house idea but again, leaves a lot of questions in its wake. It’s actually rather baffling how the segment Tuesday the 17th directed by Glenn McQuaid managed to creep its way in there because it looks like a student’s first attempt at filmmaking. There is nothing original about it, the acting is cringey and it again, doesn’t make much sense. Other segments include The Strange Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Young, directed by Joe Swanberg and The Signal directed by David Bruckner, both of which may have had more of an impact had I not seen the trailer. If you haven’t yet seen the trailer, stay clear. Certain elements of these stories were slightly ruined by what was shown there and although Joe Swanberg’s effort was the most interesting, I’m still trying to understand why a webcam conversation was converted to a VHS tape.
Watching with a large audience there were times when I wondered whether the crowd was laughing more than the directors really wanted them too, this wasn’t nervous laughter either, the group of misfits are not people the audience can identify to or connect with either so a lot of what happens has little impact in the end. Another major problem for some people may be the extent that hand held camera footage is used. If you normally tend to get a bit dizzy watching the likes of Paranormal Activity then get the barf bag at the ready because your head is going to be in a foggy haze after this one.
The overwhelming feeling from this movie was just disappointment. Is this film just a victim of hype like so many before? Possibly. Blazoned on the front of the posters and trailers are claims it is the scariest film of the year, 2012 has been pretty poor in the horror stakes but that still doesn’t make V/H/S a contender.