I feel like I’ve been reading and hearing about V/H/S for years. Finally, it will be released on demand on August 30th, and in select theatres (why is Toledo never on the list?) October 5th. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak at the found footage anthology film from a handful of horror’s brightest young directors. Without further delay, let’s break it down by segments.
Tape 56 – The wraparound title opens with a group of delinquents who video tape themselves being jackasses and harassing people, then selling their antics to websites for cash. A fan of the group offers them a job- break into an old man’s house and steal a VHS tape. When they get there, they find the old man dead in front of the television and a stack of unmarked VHS tapes all around. You may wonder which tape they are supposed to be looking for? All they were told is that “they will know it when they see it”. So they start watching the tapes.
Tape 56 works quite well as a wraparound, giving us a reason to sit and view all the other segments. Director Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way to Die) does a pretty good job giving us a couple creepy moments in between the other tales which keeps things flowing nicely. The only real issue with Tape 56 is that the characters are all douche bags and you kinda wait and hope something bad is gonna happen to them. All in all, Tape 56 is an enjoyable chapter in V/H/S.
Amateur Night – A group of men head out to the club (one of them wearing glasses equipped with a spy cam) to try and pick up some women. After finally getting a couple women to head back to their hotel room with them, where they planned to film their encounter, the men realize they may have gotten themselves into more than they bargained for.
Amateur Night was my favorite segment of the movie, once you get past the dizzying first 5-10 minutes in the club. Upon arrival back in the hotel room, the shit hits the fan fast and furious. A nice combination of effective jump scares, gore, and some really tense moments make Amateur Night a home run. David Bruckner (The Signal) easily offers up the scariest chapter to open the movie.
Second Honeymoon – Here we get to see the home video footage of a young couple on their way to the Grand Canyon. The young couple seems to be madly in love and having a fantastic trip, until someone turns on their camera and films them while they sleep in their hotel room (ultra-creepy in my book). Who is the mystery visitor, and what do they want?
I’m gonna go ahead and throw this out there, Ti West (The House of the Devil) might be the modern day master of suspense. Most horror movies today are all about splashing the gore and violence all over the screen, and I admit I love those types of movies. However, whenever I start thinking of the most frightening movies it usually comes down to the suspense factor. Once again, Ti West turns the suspense up to a “10” in Second Honeymoon and makes you wait for the big reveal at the end. I’m sure not everyone will agree with me (since it is the longest and slowest segment) but Second Honeymoon is another fantastic chapter in V/H/S.
Tuesday the 17th – An homage to the slashers of the 80’s, a group of teenagers head out into the woods for some much needed R&R. Strangely, this isn’t your normal group of friends- one of the girls in particular has handpicked everyone she wants to come with her. When the kids finally get to the woods, the video camera begins getting glitchy just as the truth about why they are all in the woods together begins to come to light.
Tuesday the 17th took a tired subject like slasher movies and gave it a new spin using the video camera as the only way to see the serial killer. Glenn McQuaid (I Sell the Dead) offers up some of the best gore sequences in the entire movie, but the overall premise felt a little flat to me. Tuesday the 17th is still a good chapter, but it doesn’t live up to the enormous high set by Amateur Night and Second Honeymoon.
The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Young – Emily is concerned that the apartment she is living in is haunted. She tries to confide in her boyfriend, who is away at college, via web cam conversations. He immediately doesn’t believe her, but as she finally builds up the nerve to investigate the strange sounds and occurrences, a twisted truth is brought to life.
All I can say about Emily’s chapter is WOW. I did not see this one wrapping up the way it did. Joe Swanberg (Silver Bullets) plays the typical haunted house movies that we are constantly pelted with, and takes them in a completely different direction. At first, I didn’t think it worked, I almost felt cheated with the ending. But the more I’ve thought about it, this was a really fun chapter. I also loved the fact that the “found footage” aspect was done entirely via the web cam conversations, it really kept the idea fresh.
10/31/98 – A group of college men are headed to a Halloween party. Strangely when they arrive at the house, it appears to be empty. That is, until they hear voices coming from the attic, so they head up to party. However when they arrive upstairs, they find a whole lot more than they planned on.
10/31/98 is another extremely strong chapter. Similar to Amateur Night when the action picks up, it’s fast and furious. 10/31/98 also easily has the most effects work in it, and everything looks fantastic (at least what I could see with the jerky camera). Directed by Radio Silence (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, and Chad Villella) 10/31/98 brings V/H/S to a crashing finale.
Overall, V/H/S continues the string of enjoyable horror anthologies we’ve been treated to in recent years (The Theatre Bizarre, Chillerama, and the upcoming ABC’s of Death). Personally though, V/H/S is the best of the bunch. Every segment was at least good (which is saying a lot when doing anthologies) with most of them being fantastic. V/H/S gets my highest recommendation! Once again, Magnet Releasing delivers the goods!