This will be my last review for Movies Are Damn Good horrorthon 2012. What great times I had watching and writing for you all. I hope you enjoyed my reviews. Now on to my last review, V/H/S.
I was really hyped about catching V/H/S at the IFI ( Irish Film Institute) horrorton 2012. The internet buzz around this flick seemed positive and I’m quite the fan of anthology movies; Creepshow and the recent Trick r’ Treat are particular favorites. Like 3D, I’m growing weary of the found footage film craze, but with V/H/S I thought that the portmanteau format might breathe a breath of fresh air into what is now an exhausted and clichéd sub genre. Six directors would band together to direct their own short tale, and I found that to be another exciting element. What kind of varied horror would six different directors bring to the table?….well…nothing.
You see, each short film, including the main story arc, looks like it was shot by the same director. Nothing new is presented here. Every film was so shaky that it looked like it was shot by a camera operator who suffered from Parkinson’s. Whereas, the likes of The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity did utilize the shaky cam aesthetic to a large degree, it never felt excessive. And so, while the direction and cinematography hold little to no merit, the various stories were the aspect of this flick that I was looking forward to getting my teeth into the most.
(She held the camera quite nicely)
The main narrative arc revolves around a bunch of thugs who are hired by an unknown source to collect a VHS tape from some dark, sprawling house. Upon breaking and entering, they discover the seemingly dead body of an elderly man and more tapes than a blockbuster video. One member is told to watch a bunch of tapes in the living room, while the other two punks search the house. Apparently the leader of this group was informed that when they see the tape, they’ll know it’s the right one. We get small glimpses from the main arc after each short story. And oh boy are these shorts are a hit and miss.
The first short, Amateur Night, is predictable and slow-moving, while the last, 10/31/98, is straight forward but creepy, due predominantly to it’s subtle effects and it’s fun-house style. Two shorts left me with ‘what the fuck?!’ expressions, and not in a good way. If felt like someone hit stop on the remote, just as the plots were getting interesting. The over-all arc felt pointless in the end – it didn’t set up the short films or have any connection with them. It felt forced, and well it didn’t serve any function within the overall plot. The main arc didn’t reveal anything to the audience. Watching someone pick their nose would’ve been a much more disturbing and thrilling affair. At least a disgusting habit has a start and an end, a revolting one albeit, but a conclusion nonetheless.
I found the writing pretty lazy. Instead of creating interesting characters who we could root for, we’re presented with a collection of jerks, douchbags and down right nasty people. It’s like the writers wrote these hateful characters just so the audience could find some satisfaction in their grisly deaths, not the story itself. I would have renamed this film Shaky Assholes, and for shits and giggles, I would’ve converted it into 3D just because that’s the cool thing to do now. I really don’t get how a bunch of writers and directors could present a film that is lacking in personality. I guess when the foundations and clichés of the found footage sub-genre are firmly laid in place, it ain’t too hard to squat within them rather than tearing them up and starting over.
While I’m being pretty harsh on V/H/S, I don’t think it’s as bad as other found footage films out there like Paranormal Activity 3 or The Last Exorcism. I would rent this out if your curious. It’s the curiosity that will entertain you, not the actual film itself. Would I watch V/H/S again? It might be worth another viewing down the line, but not in the near future.