V/H/S Movie Review
A mixed bag of found-footage horror shorts, this anthology gives rising star filmmakers a chance to do something original with the genre. Of course, some of the clips are much more effective than others, and some are little more than gimmicky jokes. But each one shows a hint of originality, and some of them are genuinely terrifying.
There are five segments here, as well as a framing story that connects them all through a stack of VHS tapes in an extremely creepy house. The oddly moralistic "Amateur Night" follows three guys (Sawyer, Donlan and Sykes) who set out to make a porn film but get much more than they bargained for. The strongest film, with by far the most developed characters, is "Second Honeymoon", which follows a couple (Swanberg and Takal) on a holiday to the Grand Canyon, where they are stalked by a sinister intruder (Sheil).
Less interesting, "Tuesday the 17th" is a sexist, cliched short about a group of teens who have a supernatural video-glitch encounter with a massacre that happened in the woods. "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger" is a seriously freaky Skype conversation during which Emily (Rogers) worries about her past while her boyfriend (Kaufman) tries to calm her down. And in the most visually accomplished film, "10/31/98", four young guys go in search of a Halloween party but stumble into a horrifying haunted house.
All of these films play on the limitations of videotape, using visual tricks to make everything feel very realistic, even when there are impressive make-up and digital effects at work. Each segment shows inventive skill at freaking out horror fans, although each also betrays the logic of the found-footage genre too, since we see flashbacks, gimmicky effects and other things no one would ever film. But there are more than enough great jolts to keep the target audience happy, including plenty of gore and nudity.
Cast & Crew
Producer : Roxanne Benjamin, Gary Binkow, Brad Miska
Screenwriter : Simon Barrett, David Bruckner, Nick Tecosky, Glenn McQuaid, Simon Barrett, Joe Swanberg, Radio Silence
Starring : Calvin Reeder, Adam Wingard, Drew Sawyer, Mike Donlan, Joe Sykes, Joe Swanberg, Sophia Takal, Kate Lyn Sheil, Drew Moerlein, Norma Carroll, Helen Rogers, Daniel Kaufman, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, Chad Villella