Thursday, October 30, 2014

Film Review: V/H/S (2012)

V/H/S (Review)
United States/2012
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: Yes
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"...very enjoyable and unique for the genre."

A group of criminals are paid to burglarize a home and steal a VHS tape. They find dozens and dozens of tapes and search for the correct one...

V/H/S is an anthology horror film. The frame story follows this group of criminals as they watch the tapes. “Amateur Night” follows a group of partying friends who plan to record their sexual adventures through a camera secretly placed on a pair of glasses – this is the most interesting but technically-flawed. “Second Honeymoon” follows a couple on their second honeymoon – this one is the most uneventful yet surprising. “Tuesday the 17th” follows four friends who enter the woods and face an different type of killer – also an interesting story, but not very effective. “The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger” follows Emily, who believes her apartment is haunted, as the video chats with her boyfriend – a very fast-paced jump-scare story that is very enjoyable. Finally, “10/31/98” follows a group of friends who head out to a Halloween party, but find themselves in an odd situation – another fast-paced jump-scare story that is entertaining.

All in all, I liked four of the stories in V/H/S. The only story that was on the mediocre side was “Tuesday the 17th.” Otherwise, they are all very enjoyable and unique for the genre. I really appreciate that, too. I know there are some supernatural elements in these stories, but they are more creative than the typical output in the found-footage sub-genre. I should note, though, “Second Honeymoon” is very slow-paced and somewhat uneventful. This is a Ti West film, which explains the pacing, and, although I ultimately enjoyed it, I don't think his style is suited for short films. The climax is superb, but the buildup is too much for such a come-and-go climax. Most of the short films have a decent variety of horror, such as spooky visuals and plenty of jump-scares.

The acting is good. Most characters are are generic douchebags, but this cast plays them well. The biggest flaw for some of these short films is the found-footage style. For example, “Amateur Night” is a great concept with some solid buildup and creepy visuals; however, this film is plagued with nauseating camerawork, a choppy framerate and sloppy editing. Consequently, it's difficult to get through, which is so disappointing. I even felt sick a few times – and I've seen dozens of found-footage films. Fortunately, most of the other stories keep the camera smooth enough to avoid this feeling. Aside from the poor use of found-footage at times, the direction is great. Ti West, like I said, delivers a tense and suspenseful slow-burn, Joe Swanberg has a great pace and some jolting scares, and Radio Silence deliver a very fun finale. I also applaud the writing for avoiding the run-of-the-mill ghost stories.

Overall, aside from one weak story and some technical flaws, I thoroughly enjoyed V/H/S. However, I am a sucker for horror anthologies. This film has some decent variety and some great scares. Despite being borderline uneventful, Ti West delivers the most memorable moment in this collection. If you love creative horror anthologies and can tolerate the found-footage style, this is definitely worth your time!

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, full nudity and some sexuality.

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