Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
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
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
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
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.
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.
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