V/H/S is a found footage, horror anthology film that was created by Brad Miska & Bloody Disgusting. The film debuted at the Sundance film festival in 2012.
The frame narrative focuses on a criminal gang who film their exploits. An anonymous source offers them a large sum of money to break into a house and steal a single VHS videotape. The gang is eager to expand their criminal enterprises, and accept the task. Entering the house, the criminals find an old man sitting dead in front of several televisions playing white noise. Free to roam the house, they discover hundreds of unmarked VHS tapes. One of the criminals stays behind in the TV room with the dead body to watch a tape left in the VCR. The contents of this tape and the four subsequent ones comprise the bulk of the film. It cuts back to the criminals between each short.
Going into detail on each story would only lead to a long, boring review. I’ll just get onto my opinion on them and the film as a whole.
V/H/S is one of the better found-footage films that I have seen. However, it suffers from many of the same issues that the genre is often criticized for. It feels silly to bash a film for being exactly what it intended to be and yet here I am. Most of the footage in V/H/S is poorly filmed and in low quality. A lot of the time, it can be nauseating to sit through. The footage is supposed to appear to be amateurishly filmed and it achieves that. One thing I give this movie huge credit for is the reasons why the cameras continues to roll. One of the worst tropes in the genre is when someone continues to film in a horrific situation.
Like most horror anthologies, you have certain tales that are much stronger than the rest. However, none of the stories are bad. In fact, I enjoyed them all to an extent. Even the weaker stories deliver memorable moments. They each bring something different to the table. Also, they all have a twist which are surprisingly unpredictable. Of course, each of them utilize a number of found-footage tropes. Unfortunately, this usually comes in the form of the dreaded jump scare. Still, there are a couple of really effective moments that are much more subtle.
The strongest aspect of V/H/S is the gore. The effects are really convincing and quite gruesome. It gives you the sense that what you’re witnessing is a snuff film. The low quality in the visuals help hide certain shortcomings in the effects though.
The one thing I disliked the most in V/H/S were the characters. The male ones are often obnoxious morons. Additionally, the female ones are often used in an exploitative manner as well. None of the characters are even a little bit likeable. They are underdeveloped fodder and not much more. Also, a few of them make some horrible decisions. For example, constantly falling over.
The overarcing story works as a way of delivering the different tales. However, it doesn’t need to exist. If you’re hoping for any kind of explanation to the things that you see then you’ll be disappointed. V/H/S depends heavily on the mystery being effective enough to scare you.
To enjoy V/H/S you must get into the right mind-set. Know what to expect going in and you’ll have a better time.
Overall, this is not only one of the better found-footage films but certainly one of the better horror anthologies as well.
The Final Score - 7/10
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