Dir. Ti West, Adam Wingard, Joe Swanberg, Radio Silence, David Bruckner and Glenn McQuaid
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Ever since that film we shall not name was released back in 1999, the found footage genre has continued to live amongst us. As much as we like to see first person scares, there is no excuse for Hollywood directors who have a big budget, suck up to those who want to make a film but only have one thing in common with a film-maker, a camcorder.
And with directors such as Ti West (HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, THE INNKEEPERS), Adam Wingard (A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE) and Glenn McQuaid (I SELL THE DEAD, special effects on STAKE LAND) it’s hard to find an answer to the question we’ve asked for years… Why?
V/H/S is an anthology of recordings compiled through a story, 'Tape 59, set against a group of guys searching for a tape. When they get to the locale of the video in an abandoned house occupied by the dead body of an old man, they find a collection big enough to set up a rental store, only when they begin to watch them, all becomes surreal.
Playing like a Faces of Death montage the videos are played and smoothly between the main story with the short tales of horror in between, this film is not for the faint-hearted.
Starting off is ‘Amateur Night’ when 3 guys go clubbing and take home two women for the night of their lives. This is a great opener into the anthology with blood and flesh splattered all over the place and not to mention the terrifying reveal and motion sickness in the climax. After flicking between cassettes, Ti West’s piece, ‘Second Honeymoon’ is next.
Like a simple wedding recording, we see a happy couple head to a motel to indulge in their second honeymoon and reading a fortune card, soon uncover what’s to come. Slow burning but effective as we see a strange masked woman sneak in their room and ‘play’ with them while they sleep with the blood soaked ending.
The third chapter is ‘Tuesday the 17th’ and just as it sounds, plays a clever homage to the slasher films of the 70’s and does it brilliantly. Why has this concept never been used for a sequel is anybody’s guess.
And we save the best until last…
'The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger' is a ghost story with a twist, a rather stomach churning twist at that and with that we get the closing of the main story as all that is dead may not be.
While just when you think it’s all over, we are treated to the brilliant closing segment. ‘10/31/98’ sets 4 guys to a Halloween party only to find the house clear of guests, at least until the reach the stairwell. Reminiscent of West’s HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, this haunted house story is the perfect closer to a mixed bag of films that bring out the best in horror for a genre that needs fresh ideas.
Terrifying and claustrophobic, V/H/S will have you walking home in shit stained trousers with a little smirk on your face knowing that you earned it. It had us jumping out of our seats during a few moments of the film and while some sections were more memorable than others, the collection works brilliantly together.
This is not the saving grace of Found Footage but at least it helps its cause in keeping us scared at night. Long live the V/H/S proving itself not only one of the best horror films of 2012, but also one of the most innovative.