Real Horrorwshow: “V/H/S”

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Today, let’s take a look at the found footage genre of horror, which has exploded onto the scene since The Blair Witch Project. Our subject  is the wickedly creative 2012 horror anthology V/H/S. The movie is divided into five short found footage features, framed by an overarching story of a group of private investigators who stumble upon a collection of mysterious video tapes. The gist is that each of the short films is a different tape within the collection and due to the separate nature of each, wildly differ in both ideas and quality. Though you may not like everything V/H/S has to offer, for the most part there’s something for every horror lover.

The first short, “Amateur Night,” directed by David Bruckner, follows the exploits of a group of sleazy guys picking up girls to film a sex tape. Things of course go awry when predator becomes prey, and the gang discovers a girl they brought back is a succubus. Overall, this is easily one of the strongest showings in the collection, emulating a pretty memorable creature flick. The second feature in the collection, Ti West’s “Second Honeymoon,” is a bit of a misstep. Shying away from the supernatural elements of the other shorts, “Second Honeymoon” goes the route of a traditional thriller. The ending comes out of left field in a not quite satisfying way.

Round three is Glenn McQuaid’s “Tuesday the 17th,” which comes across as a modern ‘in-the-woods’ stalker slasher, a la The Blair Witch Project. While not as original as “Amateur Night” the special effects of the monster are seriously cool, as it appears onscreen as nothing more than a haunting tracking error. Once again, things take a lull with Joe Swanberg’s “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger.” It doesn’t have the breakneck pace of the previous tale, instead being much more dialogue driven. Any fans of alien abductions and conspiracy theories will get a kick out of it though. Finally, Radio Silence’s “10/31/98” ends the film on a relatively positive note, with a short haunted house flick that combines everything from cults to poltergeists.

Overall, V/H/S is a cinematic grab-bag, with something that any fan of horror should be able to appreciate. The wildly different cinematography used in each segment, while sometimes hit or miss, really give the entire movie a very cool, very creepy vibe that definitely merits a watch. If you liked the first installment at all, its sequel, V/H/S/2 surpasses it in just about every way, and this writer has high hopes for this fall’s V/H/S: Viral.


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