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V/H/S is the movie that I planned to review as my comeback to the site, but unfortunately, the disc that I received was scratched, causing me to put off watching it and make my return with something else. Today, I booted up Netflix, and what do you know: there it is, available for streaming and ready to go. So, having been pretty excited by the potential for this film, I immediately pushed play and sat through those two hours. I was incredibly satisfied with the resulting film, and in fact, I'd even go so far as to say that it's one of the better horror films I've seen in a long while.
Review by Chad
Added: January 21, 2013
This is an anthology horror flick with five short stories and the obligatory wraparound story, and each of the stories are shown through the lens of a camera. Yes, this is another "found footage" movie, take that as you will. The wraparound tells the tale of four guys who make a living filming "reality porn"... in other words, they find unsuspecting ladies and film themselves pulling the woman's shirt up and exposing her breasts. When they're not doing that, they find amusement in breaking into people's homes and vandalizing the property before stealing anything of value. Charming lads, huh?
Someone hears of their exploits and hires them, promising to pay them good money for what seems like a simple task: break into an old man's home and steal a VHS tape. What's on the tape? "They'll know when they see it." Seems easy enough, so they break into the house, and... discover that the old man is dead and that there are hundreds of unmarked tapes laying around. So, they start going through the tapes and watching them, and these tapes provide us with our five stories. They go a little something like this.
directed by David Bruckner
The first story finds three guys who decide to play around with a pair of spy glasses (glasses that have a hidden camera inside the frames) by picking up some random ladies, getting them drunk, having sex with them, and filming the entire thing for prosperity. The guys (Mike Donlan, Joe Sykes, and Drew Sawyer) meet a pair of ladies at the local nightclub and take them back to their hotel room, and that is where things get a little odd. You see, one of the girls (Jas Sams) seems normal enough, but she has had way too much to drink and she quickly passes out. So, the guys turn their attention to her oddball friend (Hannah Fierman), and from there... well, I won't spoil it. Let's just say that things head into "holy shit" territory and that there is a lot of blood and gore.
I absolutely loved this opening story, and I have to say that it was definitely the strongest of the bunch. The other stories were good, don't get me wrong, but this was downright great. It reminded me a lot of another classic story from an anthology horror flick, one that I can't reveal as it would give away the surprise for this one, but you'll know what I mean when you see it. It is just as memorable though, thanks to a story that seems pretty routine at first and quickly becomes very refreshing and very original. You won't see the twist coming at all, I guarantee you that. Sprinkle in some absolutely nasty gore effects and wrap it up with a shocking ending, and you have the best story by far.
directed by Ti West
Next is the story of a young couple (Joe Swanberg and Sophia Takal) who head out west for their second honeymoon, and there, they visit a wild west attraction where the woman has her future told by a mechanical fortune teller. This prediction will soon come true, but how? They think nothing else of it and head back to their hotel room, where they quickly jump into bed for the night. Later in the evening, the camera that they are using to record their honeymoon starts recording again, and we learn that neither of them are using it... somebody else is in their room, recording them while they sleep. Again, I'm going to leave the description at that.
Without spoiling this or the other stories, I will say that this was the only "realistic" story found in the collection. The other stories deal with various supernatural or otherworldly themes, but this one is rooted firmly in reality - everything you see here could really happen, and more than likely has happened. This right here set it apart, but it was also an example of fine storytelling and contained numerous subtle little hints that you won't catch until you know the twist. Definitely another very memorable story, and it also featured one of the most realistic kill sequences that I have ever seen in a movie - I swear that it DID NOT look like just another special effect, it looked absolutely genuine.
Tuesday the 17th
directed by Glenn McQuaid
Four friends (Norma C. Quinones, Drew Moerlein, Jeannine Yoder, and Jason Yachanin) head out to a remote section of woods for a weekend of camping, swimming in the lake, drugs, and premarital sex. What could possibly go wrong? An obvious nod to slasher flicks of the eighties, this one features a unique twist that, again, I can not spoil.
Once again, I have to say that I absolutely loved this one. It's going to be hard to say why I loved it so much without spoiling it, but let's just say that I love classic slasher movies and I enjoyed the concept found here. What I will say is, think of it as a follow-up to one of those aforementioned slasher movies: when that lone female survives the night, where does she go from there? It was definitely an interesting concept and the entire thing was executed incredibly well.
The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger
directed by Joe Swanberg
Emily (Helen Rogers) and James (Daniel Kaufman) are in a long distance relationship and keep up with one another through a video-chat program on their laptops, and strange things are afoot at Emily's apartment. She is hearing strange noises in the night and seeing ghostly little kids, and the odd thing is, James actually hears and sees some of this while talking to Emily. As the nights go on, we realize that something is a little off about this entire situation.
I definitely got a Paranormal Activity vibe off of this one at first, but it quickly lets you know that this is its own beast. Trust me when I say that this is not just another "ghostly children" movie and that there is a lot more to the story. There is a neat little twist in here that injects some originality into the entire affair, and I will say that I enjoyed the story - it was a little weaker than the stories that preceded it, granted, but still very enjoyable.
directed by Radio Silence
Four friends (Chad Villella, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, and Paul Natonek) are heading out to a Halloween party, and unfortunately for them, they arrive at the wrong house. They do not realize their mistake, however, and let themselves in. They are puzzled by the lack of guests and the severe shortage of a party, and they are just about to leave when some spooky shit starts to go down. Thinking that this is just a "haunted house" attraction with incredibly good special effects made for the holiday, they decide to explore the rest of the house. They will soon discover that they should have left when they had the chance.
Honestly, this was the weakest story of the bunch. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it was bad or anything, but it definitely could have been left out or used as a bonus feature on the DVD. I will say that some of the special effects were great and I'll even say that there was some genuine tension in here, but the overall story just felt a little weak... and if you've seen one haunted house movie in your life, you've already seen most of what this has to offer, save for the final twist (which is ripped out of an urban legend).
Overall though, that final story not withstanding, I have to give this a high rating and a strong recommendation for fans of creepy horror flicks. The "found footage" style of storytelling may be getting a little old and may put you off if you're not into that kind of thing, but it is handled well here and adds to the tension countless times; shooting some of those scenes as a "real" movie would have weakened them considerably. V/H/S delivers four strong, memorable stories and is full of creative, original ideas that will shock even the most jaded of horror fans. Check it out. 9/10.
- added January 22, 2013 at 3:44am
Cool flick mostly. I found it a bit disjointed and
the main storyline was a pointless flop, but there
was some nice nudity. 8/10 for me.
- added January 22, 2013 at 11:18am
I was really excited to watch this and I have to
say I was let-down. I think my favorite film was
'Second Honeymoon' followed by 'The Sick Thing
That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger'. But
overall, the whole thing was just meh... I'd give
it a 6/10.
- added January 25, 2013 at 1:51am
Absolutely nothing amazing, but I dug it. High
- added June 25, 2013 at 3:07pm
Pretty much hated it. 3/10.
- added April 7, 2014 at 11:22pm
First and last ones were the best. They saved this
movie, no question. 6/10