Directed by Adam Wingard, Ti West, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, and Radio Silence
Horror anthology films are usually a hit and miss affair. Classic anthologies like Creepshow and the more recent Trick ‘r Treat have proven that they can be made very well without missing a step, but those were both made with one person steering the ship. Usually multiple directors means that one or two parts fall short. These films work when the good considerably outweighs the bad, but does V/H/S fall into this category?
We start off with our wrapping story (Directed by Wingard) where we have a group of guys performing random acts of violence and destruction. After they finish destroying some homes, one of them talks about making some money by breaking into a house to steal a videotape. Upon breaking into the house the group discovers tons of tapes and a dead man sitting in a room full of televisions. As the team splits up to explore the house further, unsure of which tape they are there for, members of the group start sitting down in the room to watch the tapes. The first tape (Directed by Bruckner) is the story of a trio of guys equipped with a set of hidden camera glasses who manage to bring home the wrong girl. The second tape (Directed by Ti West) appears to be as simple vacation tape from a young couple, but things start to go awry after the appearance of an unknown visitor. Tape 3 (Glenn McQuaid) brings us the familiar horror set-up of a group of horny kids headed to the lake, until one tells the others of the grisly murders that occurred there previously. Tape 4 uses the wonders of Skype (Directed by Swanberg) to give us a scary tale of what appears to be a haunted apartment as a girl relays video of her surroundings to her boyfriend miles away via webcam. Now in-between the tape sequences things are occurring to our intrepid burglars and after tape 4 their story in concluded before moving on to our last tape. A group of friends looking for a friend of a friend’s Halloween party stumble into the wrong house and interrupt something they are never meant to see in our final tale of the film (Directed by Filmmaking conglomerate Radio Silence).
V/H/S has a lot more working for it than not. The wraparound story from Wingard really only starts working after they enter the house as the opening destruction sequences are tedious at best. Bruckner’s tale of a night out gone wrong is very effective with a couple of good lead performances. Ti West is a very talented filmmaker known for delivering intricately drawn out tales with killer finishing sequences, a process that does not transfer well to this short as it plays as all exposition without a very strong ending. Glenn McQuaid’s concept is actually quite intriguing but the execution is lacking in this nauseating example of overusing the shakiness factor of the camera that has plagued found footage films for ever since the Blair Witch Project (if my hammered friends can shoot straighter video at a New Year’s Eve party then you’re overdoing it). Swanberg’s Skype inspired little gem is quite effectively creepy and plays out to a confusing yet satisfying end. The clear cut best sequence of the film belongs to its closer from Radio Silence, a group I know really nothing about, as their take on the classic house of horrors is excellently paced and the special effects look brilliant. A scary premise that carries a wicked sense of comic timing and decent performances. 10/31/98, as it is titled, really emerges as the star of the show.
Ultimately V/H/S as a whole is a solid film, spectacular in parts only, that should eventually take its place as one of the better anthologies in recent years. V/H/S is a definite recommend.
Till Next Time,
Movie Junkie TO
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