V/H/S DVD Review
Written by Simon Bland
DVD released by Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment
Directed by Adam Wingward, David Bruckner, Ti West, Radio Silence, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg
Written by Brad Miska, Simon Barrett, David Bruckner, Nicholas Tecosky, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, Chad Villella
2012, 116 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 28th January 2013
Calvin Reeder as Gary
Lane Hughes as Zak
Kentucker Audley as Rox
Adam Wingward as Brad
Frank Stack as Old Man
Sarah Byrne as Abbey
Ripping onto screens at a manic pace, V/H/S grips its claws into the pale flesh of horror and starts ferociously attacking. If the genre was asking for a wake up call, this could be it. The best horror movies have a certain tacky quality about them. Deep down you know what you’re watching isn’t real at all. You can see the seams, the cameraman in the mirror, the blood spurting from that jock’s neck like fizzed up cola? Pfft, totally fake. We know all this but we like them anyway. These very qualities make horror buffs secretly grin ear to ear. However, in today’s ceilingless CG filmscape how can we bring this clunky charm back to the future? V/H/S may have cracked the code.
Yeah, It may seem a little soon to be getting all misty-eyed about a format we all collectively dumped for its digital younger sibling but audiences seem to disagree. Pop-up video rental stores created specifically in support of this release saw swarms of nostalgic fans get involved. It also gave that tried and (over) tested found footage genre a Mia Wallace sized shot of adrenaline. Oozing from the brains of today’s best horror up and comers, V/H/S hits the ground running and doesn’t let up. We find ourselves riding along with a group of lowlifes. Guys who aren’t above secretly filming a girl getting her dress pulled down in exchange for a quick buck. Tired of selling similarly smutty clips to seedy porn sites, one of their number convinces the gang to chase a winning job opportunity. There’s a video tape with something mysteriously valuable on it in a creepy house. All they have to do is break in, steal it and a hefty cash reward is theirs for the taking. Simple, right?
Not quite. On entering this dingy building they discover the place is littered with cassettes. The only way to get the one they’re after is to press play and start watching but what they find makes them question whether their cash prize is worth the fright. What follows is a series of stand alone ghost stories that all end badly. Each director aboard the good ship V/H/S takes his turn trying to entice the poop into your pants. Some are straight up otherworldly - like an encounter with a social creature who’s thirsty for more than just booze, a camping trip turned deadly or an exorcism flipped on its head. Others opt for a psychological scare - like Ti West’s sinister honeymoon nightmare or Joe Swanberg’s paranoia-laced webcam chat. Everyone brings their A-game and it shows.
This pass-the-camera technique gives each segment a refreshingly chilling change of pace. For the team behind the camera, it’s a great excuse for them to flex their scaring chops, take risks that full features may not allow and stay razor sharp. For us viewers, it’s like being handed a tremendous haul of Halloween candy. A horror pick and mix akin to watching a Stephen King book of short stories rise from the pages and come to life before our eyes. With word that a crazier sequel is already in the can, this could be the beginning of that rarest of things: A conveyor belt horror franchise with teeth. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.
Video and Audio:
Great. Both as sharp as you'd expect from a DVD posing as a buzzing VHS adventure.
There are a few added extras on this DVD edition but it'd be great if there were more. There's a trailer, two cast and crew interviews an alternate ending to the segment 'Tuesday The 17th' compete with outtakes, all topped off with a behind the scenes featurette focusing on the first story.