Tis the season to be spooky. With Halloween fast approaching, I thought I would take a look at a horror movie that seems to have a bit of following around it. I confess I never heard much of V/H/S until recently when I heard from hardcore horror fans that it is one of their favorite films and one of the best films to come out of the genre in quite some time. So needless to say with hype like that I have no choice but to take a look at the film and see what all the fuss is about. All things considered, I was thrilled to see that this movie was an anthology series that featured several shorts instead of one plot. It has been some times since I have seen a good Anthology series and the jury is still out in my opinion when it comes to The Conjuring franchise so we will see where V/H/S takes us.
Through the two-hour movie, we have six shorts that make up the film, one of which is the framing narrative. In it, a group of thieves and con men break into the house of an old man in order to steal a VHS tape. Once in the house they find the old man dead on a chair in front of a blue screen on a television. The bandits begin to search the house finding multiple VHS tapes, some of which are watched by the bandits thus setting up for the other five narratives Amateur Night, Second Honeymoon, Tuesday the 17th, The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She was Younger, and 10/31/98.
A brief synopsis of each:
Amateur: Three men go out on the town to find two women to have sex with in a sleazy motel room when something goes horribly wrong.
Second Honeymoon: A couple goes on a second honeymoon when they meet a strange woman asking for a ride.
Tuesday the 17th: A play on Friday the 13th, four friends go into the woods for a retreat when a mysterious killer appears.
The Sick Thing that Happened to Emily When She was Younger: Emily and her doctor to be boyfriend talk via voice chat when Emily discovers strange children in her house and a mysterious bump on her arm.
10/31/98: Four friends going out on Halloween accidentally stumble upon an exorcism.
Anthology Means No End to the Possibilities
I love anthology series. I absolutely love them and it kills me that people don’t use them more. Halloween was meant to be an anthology until people through a shit-fit over Halloween 3. An anthology series just leaves so much open to possibilities. Six different stories told all of which very unique and very terrifying. Some of which throw some homages to other movies, some a little subtle, others as blatant as Tuesday the 17th. But even beyond the six stories told, the possibilities for more are limitless. You can get as gory, cheesy, spooky, and scary as you want. As long as they continue to be excellently told stories then you will have no complaints from this end.
Granted I would like to get more towards genuine horror movies and less towards a bunch of assholes die because horror. But we can get more into that later. Second Honeymoon falls into a close second due to the twist at the end, but due to the
Certainly Doesn’t Pull Punches on Gore
I love a good ole hard R rated horror movie. This film pulls no punches on the blood and gore and I absolutely love it! The effects are practical and it looks absolutely beautiful. Some of the effects such as the broken wrist and knife through the eye look astonishing and are excellently done.
The best one comes from The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily when a girl is cut open and you can see her ribs and organs. It is absolutely great and I love it when a film pulls no punches when it comes to the gore and the violence. Sometimes you need a strong hard R rated film to really generate a good adult fanbase and this film does it perfectly.
With the exception of The Sick Thing that Happened to Emily When She was Younger and partially 10/31/98, the rest are nothing more than a group of annoying dickwads who die in horrific and crazy ways. People go out to party, party goes wrong, some creature kills them, end of story or in another case, crazy person murders annoying husband, end of story. Horror films have no shortage of characters you can use, make us feel for them, give us something to care about instead of just throwing in the tried and not so true method and hoping that gore and death will be enough to keep our attention.
The Sick thing that Happened to Emily… is easily the best of the six mainly because the story itself is absolutely terrifying, with horrific premises, and there was no need for a murder throughout the short’s run. It was the one that I felt the most terrified by and the implications alone are enough to make my skin crawl. The rest, eh they are okay.
Annoying Shaky Cam and Camera Work in General
For the love of god! I know part of found footage is that you need a shaky cam. But do these people just suck at operating a camera. I mean, I’m no trained cameraman but I do know to keep things steady is a basic requirement for enjoyable watching at a later date. I can understand when the shit hits the fan and you are running, recording is not exactly your top priority. But even when they are not in mortal danger, the camera goes all over the fucking place.
I also kind of have to laugh that in one of the found footage movies, Amateur Night these three dudes have the money to shell out for a mini camera that can fit into a set of glasses, the price of which is INSANELY expensive and yet you find the footage on a video cassette. I feel like somewhere along the way they just stopped asking questions and said the narrative will work.
I understand that shaky cam is a staple of the genre but at least give us a few moments rest or else we may end up throwing up before the film is over.
V/H/S is an amazing piece of work. It does succumb to several classic and annoying horror movie tropes such as partying assholes and absolutely stupid people. But beyond that the concept is astonishing, and the look of the effects is terrifying.
V/H/S is an excellent anthology series that makes me anxious to quickly play its sequels to see what are some other things the creators of this series came up with. Excellent job in my book.
Final Score 3.5/5
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