Horror/Anthology/Found FootageWritten and Directed By
"Radio Silence" (??? That credit confused me.)Year of Release
116 MinutesView the trailer! (NSFW - Red Band)Rent it here!Reviewed by Kadath J.B. and originally viewed on YouTube VOD.Overall Score
I have a fondness for anthologies. Found footage films? Not so much*... still, even knowing it was a found footage film - V/H/S allured me with its rather interesting premise, combined with my love of even the most flawed anthology films. As you can guess from the title, it is all based around the sadly dead V/H/S format. Allow me to elaborate a little on the films premise: The films wraparound involves a group of dirty punks who film themselves causing chaos and then selling the tapes to unknown third parties for money. Their most popular, unsurprisingly, are perverse in nature - they get high prices for singling out women in public, beating them and then exposing their breasts on film. As they revel in their latest triumph, they discuss the fact that they want more money and are figuring out how to raise the price on their tapes and initially focus on moving from breasts to full on pussy shots. However, one of their friends, Gary (The only name I remember... sorry T_T), has a different idea. He was once offered a high price to fetch a VHS tape from the collection of an old man who collected VHS tapes, claiming that the tape contained footage of a woman who went missing and died in mysterious circumstances. They break into the mans home to find him dead - and while Gary and the others pillage to basement trying to find the tape, one stays behind to watch the tapes as each one gets curiouser and curiouser - as do events inside the house....
Excluding the wrap around story, there are 5 stories within this anthology. I will attempt to review them individually, but there may be some minor spoilers. I will do my best to avoid them, and since many of these stories rely on twists - the reviews will be brief.
The first story is actually a pretty decent start. It follows a man named Clint, who is going to a club with his friends - who are hard partiers and intend to pick up some chicks. Clint is apprehensive, but ultimately accepts wearing a pair of glasses that have a small hidden camera in them so that they can film any funny business once they've nabbed their girls. Clint is seemingly the most shy and innocent, and a strange, wide eyed girl approaches him and sees his better qualities and ominously repeats "I like you..." but does not share the same sentiment towards his friends. What makes this story great is the girl herself, she is genuinely creepy as hell. Her pale skin, wide eyes, dead expression and monotone voice makes her creepy from the very second Clint lays eyes on her and she is arguably the films most memorable antagonist, in my eyes. It does help that the story is also fairly suspenseful when things get strange, but it all comes back to that fucking girl and her genuinely creepy appearance and performance.
Believe it or not, this is probably "I Like you Girl" at her least creepy.
The second story isn't as good, and is a little awkwardly paced. It follows a couple, Sam and Stephanie on a road trip as they film their mementos. Things get strange though, as an unseen person apparently follows them across their trek - often against their knowledge. What makes this story interesting is primarily the twist - it's a damn good twist, and genuinely creepy. This one can be a little dull, but oddly enough the reason it is dull at times is part of the reason it actually works in the end - it feels very, very
realistic; from a realistic relationship/road trip to also portraying the most realistic story in the film - which makes the ending a bit scarier, since this is the one story in the film that you could most likely see happening in real life.
GASP! This is the stalker at their most dastardly, screw the part where the stalker considers taking a knife to Stephanie's panties... This is TRUE evil!
The third story is very much like a slasher film. It follows quite a few tropes - a group of friends entering a forest and it even has the old cliche'd "A bunch of people died here..." story that, of course, turns out to be true. But again, there's a juicy twist - and this is actually one of my favourite segments because of it. It's a nice tribute, and a nice and creative take on a slasher scenario. I won't spoil the twist, but I do have to comment on the actual slasher - who is memorable, afterall you want the slasher to leave an impact. He/She/It is invisible to the naked eye, and while VHS tracking can pick it up, he still cannot be recorded.
he often appears as a scrambled blur of pixels, or jumbles the tracking, or even interferes the picture with images of his victims to obscure his form. It's an idea that genuinely disturbed me. That's why I named him Mr. Scrambly, because that way he has less of a chance of appearing in my nightmares. I hate the idea of an invisible villain, I always have.
This is actually one of the clearest images of Mr. Scrambly I could find, without showing a still from the ending of the segment - which would be a massive spoiler. Can you see him? He's to the right of the guy - look for a human-ish outline and a silver blade.
The fourth story is a bothersome thing. It is arguably the most frustrating of the film, it has good ideas, it is creepy, but it doesn't quite gel. It's the one that is most likely to usher a "What the fuck?" reaction. The twist makes little to no sense, and only brings up a massive mound of questions that are begging to be answered. I know sometimes things are more disturbing left un
answered but that is not the case here, if you are going to throw a twist like the one here - it should at least make some damn sense. As for the spoiler free summary, it is primarily taken from webcam footage between a doctor and a gorgeous (Is it wrong to say that her topless bit was the best part of this segment? *Checks with my wife* Nope, she agrees with that statement actually.) but strange woman named Emily whose house appears to be haunted. The doctor is far away from her, but promises he will come to aid her - both in her ghost problem, and in a mysterious wound that has appeared on her arm. Arguably the creepiest moment is when Emily is digging into the wound with a letter knife, gore doesn't bug me - but jesus christ the effect was disgusting and it raised a lot of questions about Emily. Who the fuck casually digs into a boil with a fucking letter knife without flinching?
She treats it as being about as painful as playing with a vibrator. Don't ask me why that comparison came into my head, it may be the weird ass music I'm listening to. This is my least favourite segment - but I don't necessarily hate
'Nuff said. P.S. NSFW treat hidden below
Thankfully, this movie saves the best for last. The final segment is easily the best in the film. It is the tape that they were ultimately searching for, and again I shan't spoil much - but it reveals the situation of the missing woman in a disturbing fashion. The premise is quite simple - some men are going to a Halloween costume party, but arrive in the wrong house (Presumably.) but decide to stay due to a strange haunting atmosphere, presuming that the strange sights are akin to those found at a haunted fun-house. They soon hear screaming and follow the voice - only to find some kind of satanic ritual being performed in the attic. They interrupt the ritual - and all hell breaks the fuck loose. I am serious when it becomes incredibly intense, and the scene turns into a full blown nightmare - and the grainy handheld camera quality only makes it creepier. Sure, it is a simple story - but it's a damn good one and it is pure eye candy.
PROTIP: If you see this kinda shit, just let it be. Don't be a hero, or things will only get worse. :S
Saying any more about the wrap around would be wrought with spoilers, but it does have an interesting - albeit somewhat predictable - conclusion. Let it be said: V/H/S is a pretty good film. Not
great, and NOT
for everyone. It is certainly a niche film, but considering what forum I am on - it is a niche many of you might fit into. This is a movie for hardcore fans of sleazy, dark horror. If you like gore, gothic imagery, plenty of nudity and surreal, nightmarish visuals that pay homage to classic horror trops - V/H/S is for you. It may even appeal to those who remember discovering the genre based on V/H/S rentals, a nostalgic memory I think many of us share. If what you've read doesn't appeal to you, then you most likely won't like V/H/S - but otherwise, give it a chance. It just may be worth your while if you are a hardcore fan of this sort of thing.
*I don't hate all found footage films. I adored
"The Troll Hunter" and the Nihon horror film "Noroi" is also superb. I also didn't mind the original Blair Witch Project, though it doesn't hold up as well as I thought - it scared me shitless as a kid, and while it gives me a few chills now - I don't find it nearly as scary as I did when I was young. I still prefer it to many other found footage films though... Fuck censorship.