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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Various

Calvin Reeder
Lane Hughes
Adam Wingard
Hannah Fierman

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What's it about
When a group of misfits is hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape, they discover more found footage than they bargained for.
Is it good movie?
I had heard a lot about V/H/S before it ever hit the shelves and as such was eagerly anticipating it. A horror anthology drenched in atmosphere? Yeah, I'll take it.

The basic through-story involves a bunch of goons who are out to find a VHS tape in a spooky house. They find a ton of tapes and have to watch a bunch to find the correct one.

The first story is Amateur Night, which involves a trio of regular dudes who have glasses with a camera hidden inside (I know this sort of technology flies in the face of the fact that the main story involves finding a videotape, but I digress). They head out on the town and pick up a girl to get nasty with. She's big eyed and innocent and says only "I like you", over and over.

Yes, the story is a bit trite- the idiot guys who try to take advantage of a girl who isn't what she seems. But with that said, I thought this was arguably the most effective and memorable story of the bunch. The style of it was terrifyingly effective and felt about as real as it possibly could. I know the characters were unlikeable and all, but this one stuck with me.

Next up is Second Honeymoon, a slow burn sort of story from Ti West. It tells the tale of a couple on their trip, having a normal vacation until they run into a hitchhiker who wants a ride. The story goes in a relatively predictable direction until the very end, when things get crazy and unexpected (though foreshadowing is implemented in hindsight). This one will raise the hair on your neck if you get uncomfortable with the idea of someone invading your bedroom at night and filming you as you sleep (and who doesn't)?

Tuesday the 17th comes from Glenn Mcquaid and is a direct nod to the slasher genre with four teenagers heading to the woods and winding up smack in the middle of a famous murder site. This one was unquestionably my least favorite of the stories, though it did feature some decent gore. I just didn't care for the killer's gimmick (as he's a sort of "glitch ghost" who can't be videotaped and seems to just warp around at will). It was fine enough as a short story, but didn't offer much explanation.

The Strange Thing that Happened to Emily When She Was Younger hits the screen next, and is really inventive and creepy. The gimmick with this one is that the whole thing takes place over Skype, a video chat program. Emily's trying to convince her boyfriend that her place is haunted, while trying to ignore a strange lump on her arm that is clearly bothering her.

This one will instantly remind you of Paranormal Activity, and it's done really well. There are plenty of "did you see that" sort of moments and the other haunted house stuff is chilling and effective. The whole idea here is that you're wondering if Emily's actually crazy, and it all leads to a solid twist ending that works pretty well. Great stuff.

The next story is 10/31/98 and deals with four dudes who head out to a haunted house party on Halloween (or at least they think it's a party). Turns out they're in a real haunted house that just tends to get worse and worse as it goes along, all building to a haunted conclusion in the house's attic. This one is directed by a group known as "Radio Silence" and relies heavily on some terrifying visuals and plenty of suspense. You'll never know why certain things are happening and the plot remains fairly linear but this is still effective.

I really liked what V/H/S had to offer, though it of course isn't perfect. I didn't love the wraparound scenes of the dudes in the house  as I found most of them absolutely detestable and pretty stupid. Also, some of these short films seemed a little too linear without giving many details, but that may just be a personal preference rather than criticism. Having said that, V/H/S does deliver the horrific goods and will leave you wanting more..and isn't that the point?
Video / Audio
This flick's video presentation has been presented in 1.78:1 widescreen and really looks exactly how'd you'd expect it to. It's low-res and ranges from passable to hideous in nature. There's no real reason to run out and grab this on Blu-Ray in terms of showing off your system to your buddies due to the nature of the film.

Audio features a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that sounds just fine, though again, the quality varies.
The Extras
We'll kick things off with the Audio Commentary featuring Simon Barrett, Joe Swanberg, Helen Rogers, Adam Wingard, Brad Miska, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Justin Martinez, Tyler Gillett, Chad Villella, and David Bruckner (phew). This is a surprisingly fun and informative commentary, even with so many people participating. People are respectful, having fun and take their turn talking, which makes for a great listen. This is jammed with awesome tidbits and a must listen.

Also included in the Deleted Scenes section.. an alternate ending from 10/31/98 which is baffling and nonsensical. If you'd like to see a bit more fleshing out of the characters in Tuesday the 17th, there's a bit of extra footage, about 3 minutes worth included here.

Amateur Night: Balloon night is a brief and humorous feature from the first story in the anthology as the crew is trying to rig up a flying camera.

Webcam interviews runs about 15 minutes long and features Simon Barrett and Helen Rogers, the actors from the Emily segment as they talk over Skype about their portion of the film with director Joe Swanberg.

Also included are about a half hour's worth of Cast and Crew interviews. Included here are executive producers Brad Miska and Zak Zeman, director Adam Wingard, writer Simon Barrett, writer/director Ti West, filmmakers Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, director (among other things) Glenn McQuaid, writer/director David Bruckner, and actor/director Joe Swanberg. These interviews are all worth listening to, especially the first segment with Miska and Zeman, as they discuss the evolution of the project and the challenges getting it off the ground.

AXSTV: A Look at V/H/S is a brief 5 minute promo piece which essentially serves as an extended teaser with each director talking about their part of the anthology.

Finally, two trailers and an image gallery round things out.
Last Call
I know it isn't perfect, but V/H/S delivers in scares and gore and wraps it all up in an easily digestible and entirely watchable package. Each story might not stick with you for a long while, but I'm sure that the package will leave a good taste in your mouth. On top of that, you've got a package that is jammed full of quality extras, which helps lean things in the "buy" direction. V/H/S is a pretty quality horror anthology that is simply quite inspired and will remain on my shelf any time I wish to pop in some "found footage" that can effectively creep me out.
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT

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