V/H/S brings a new level of terror to the found-footage genre
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 22:09
It may seem a bit early but the horror movie season has already begun. Supermarkets and departments stores already have Halloween stuff out two months in advance, so why not start watching scary movies now?
“V/H/S,” a found-footage horror anthology film by directors Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg and the group Radio Silence, has just been released on demand through most cable providers. It was first shown at the Sundance film festival, where it received positive reviews for its interesting low-budget take on the horror genre.
As with most anthology films, there is an overarching main storyline which connects the five other short films together. The basic plot is that a group of criminals are hired to break into a house and steal a single VHS tape. Once they enter the house they make the realization that the owner of the house is dead and there are hundreds of unlabeled tapes lying around.
In order to find out which tape is the one they need to steal, one of the robbers is given the unlucky job of watching the tapes to find the one they’re looking for. This is where the anthology aspect of the film comes in, as each of the tape contains a different disturbing account of supernatural events.
The five films vary in quality but all have one thing in common. Each film is shot from first person perspective in the “found-footage” style of other popular films such as the “Paranormal Activity” series. Unlike “Paranormal Activity,” the film finds unique ways of explaining why the characters are filming the events taking place.
In one film, a group of college age kids wear hidden-camera spy glasses to try filming a drunken sex tape in Vegas. In another, a couple films their second honeymoon road trip, only to discover that they may have an unwanted third passenger.
One of the films involves a Halloween party gone wrong, where the cameraman happens to be dressed as a teddy bear with a camera in his head also known as a “nanny cam.”
The special effects in the film are frightening and delightfully realistic looking. It is always scarier when it is clear that the filmmakers used makeup and fake blood instead of computer generated effects. In the few times that the film does show digital effects, the handheld camera aspect makes it easy to cut away before the viewer realizes how fake it looks.
The only film which seemed to be distractingly low quality in comparison to the others was a clip involving a group of teenage campers who get murdered by some kind of ghost slasher with a butcher knife. In such a strange and original group of horror films this one stood out with its bad acting, animated blood effects and cliché story.
Other than that, this film could easily become a cult classic and it’s worth the $9.99 rental price on your cable box. It’s the perfect horror film to watch with a group of friends, some drinks, and the lights out.
Some of the ideas in modern horror films have become as tired and outdated as VHS tapes themselves, so it is refreshing to see something that brings a new atmosphere to the genre.