Six directors bring six stories to life. The main plot is the one listed in the synopsis, entitled Tape 56 (directed by Adam Wingward). However the fabric of this film is the horror anthology it entails. The five short films within are: Amateur Night (Dir: David Bruckner), Second Honeymoon (Dir: Ti West), Tuesday the 17th (Dir: Glenn McQuaid), The Sick Thing that Happened to Emily When She Was Younger (Dir: Joe Swanberg) and 10/31/98 (Dir: Radio Silence). Each story is distinctive and varied in its intention and, while the odd one or two are a bit sketchy, most of them are excellent and every flaw within has a redeeming factor. From the offset V/H/S is a film some will love and some will not – it’s a divisive work that is bound for cult filmdom.
The viscera-laden shocks and intelligent horror riffs that litter this violent and, at times, abstract film will please many independent film fans but may struggle to entice the mainstream. Still, no matter what anyone says, there is no doubting the strength of the involvement of the directors, cast and crew. Everyone has clearly made an effort to elevate V/H/S above the found footage stock and have succeeded. The writing, though not always coherent, is intent on doing something and as a result is smart and entertaining. It’s impossible to call this a mere cash-in with the strength of such beloved horror fan directors. Each dedicated to the style, embracing the graininess and raw edge of the VHS recording. The visual presentation is authentic and worryingly raw. At times it often feels like these events have been recorded just for you. It does feel uncomfortable but that is horror!
Even in face of some untied plotting or the odd annoying characters, the writing allows audiences to subtract another pleasure or two in place of that flaw. The cast give authentic performances and, whilst it’s not what you would call an acting tour-de-force, it never is meant to be. Obviously the film loses soundtrack points as, aside from a closing theme and the odd bit of background music from the onscreen set, there is no real soundtrack.
V/H/S is not completely polished and, while the chances are that some will pass the film by, it is well worth the right audience member’s time. This film pays homage to horror conventions (from Friday the 13th to The Amityville Horror) and adds twists and shocks along the way making V/H/S constantly scary. Much like Josh Trank’s Chronicle did last year, this anthology effort proves that the found footage genre still has plenty to offer, when done well.
Memorable Line: “I Like You”