Sometimes you get wrapped in the hype of a movie. You wait with anticipation until you finally have a chance to see it. Your expectations are high. Then, when you finally watch it, you’re ultimately disappointed. Such is the case with V/H/S (2012). This movie was making the rounds on the festival circuit and then On Demand before ever getting an official DVD release. I managed to record it on HDNet during one of their one night sneak previews. It was primed and ready for Halloween viewing but then I got wrapped up in the Universal and Hammer horror flicks. However, now that the holidays are over, it’s time to dive back into some movies. That said, I clearly was expecting too much.
For starters, it must said that I have officially grown tired of found footage movies. For the most part, they don’t work for me. You have to get over the fact that people in peril will continue to hold the camera. I’ve heard filmmakers say they totally understand it but for a Joe Average guy like me who simply doesn’t have to have a camera attached to my head, I think it’s the first thing that I would drop. However, I really like a good anthology and that’s what led me to believe V/H/S was something unique. Reactions had been mixed but I was still pretty excited for what it could offer. In an average anthology film, the wrap around story is often not very strong but the premise at least has to work to bring you into the story telling. That’s where V/H/S immediately drops the ball. A group of guys are hired by a clearly unstable man to break into a house and steal a rare videotape. Really? Okay, so they guys break in and find a dead body. So, of course, let’s stay and look for the tape anyway. Now, do they even know what tape they are looking for? No. But let’s go ahead and look through all the tapes anyway, we’ll know it when we see it. Yeah…okay. One of the guys sees a figure in the basement but heck, let’s stay anyway. Now, you have to turn off at least part of your brain for a horror movie but stupidity to this level in the characters was a sign I was really going to have to be forgiving.
The different segments are broken down into videotapes that are played on a television. As each story is played, our main characters begin disappearing one by one. But now, you are caring a lot less about them and are more interested in the individual stories. We have five stories and each have pros/cons. The first segment, Amateur Night, was creepy enough. It centered on three guys out to have some fun with the ladies. However, one of them is not what she appears. It works but the shaky cam was already becoming annoying by this point. And really, did we care about these guys? The one laughing guy was really annoying but I suppose we’ve all known his type in our lives. The second story, Second Honeymoon, offered an interesting twist about a couple on a trip and a mysterious figure. This one had a few good moments but the ending was a bit of a letdown. Our third story, Tuesday The 17th, was about a group of kids off in the woods when they encounter a killer. Where’s Jason when you need him? This story didn’t make any sense and was full of plot holes and questions I couldn’t get past. The fourth story, The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger, made even less sense. It’s about a girl who believes her apartment is haunted and is talking to her boyfriend on the computer. The plot twist here was ridiculous and I really didn’t care for the scene with the baby.
After stories three and four, I was getting anxious for the end of the movie. I stuck with it for the fifth and final story. 10/31/98 had some very creepy scenes with arms coming out of the walls and some sort of exorcism/sacrifice going on. This one also addressed the plausibility of carrying a camera as our main character was wearing a Halloween costume with a nanny cam. It’s a stretch but one I’m comfortable with considering the alternatives we’re given in the other segments. By this point, our wraparound segment is done and I was happy to see that story over. Through all the segments I kept asking a basic question. Why is everything in widescreen? Yeah, I know but it would be unique if a director went ahead and made it full screen just for some bonus points.
Each segment is directed by different people. The only name that most will recognize is Ti West (House of the Devil and The Innkeepers). He wrote and directed the Second Honeymoon story and you can clearly that he understands how to build the suspense. I just wish his story would have had a better ending. 10/31/98 had five different directors who also all wrote and starred in it.
V/H/S is now available on DVD and Blu-ray as well as all the usual sources. I can’t honestly recommend the entire movie. You can get by with watching two or three of the segments and forget the rest including the wraparound story. You’ll save a brain cell or two as well as some valuable time.