I really dig anthologies. Much like a good trailer collection, it’s a way to get a lot of horror in a short amount of time, more bang for your buck so to speak. Unfortunately, the days of the anthology have all but died with Creep show 2. Growing up with the Amicus Films of the 1970’s, it was always a format I enjoyed. That’s why I was thrilled when I first heard of the film V/H/S!
V/H/S/ utilizes the “found footage” format to its full potential and with its anthology frame work, shows many different ways that the sub-genre can make sense.
Adam Wingard kicks things off with the framing story “Tape 56”. Three man children who spend their time vandalizing and assaulting women go on a midnight raid to recover a VHS tape for an unknown client. Red flag #1, the client said he was a fan of theirs from the internet, but their output is anonymous. Sorry. I’d be sitting that one out. These guys aren’t thinkers though. They break in to find a dead body sitting in a chair and a house full of tapes. Let the fun begin!
The first tape is called “Amateur Night” (Directed by The Signal’s David Bruckner) and features two alpha males (in the worst way) and their not so cool little friend picking up women in a bar. Little do these women know, they are secretly being filmed with the help of with a pair of spy glasses similar to the ones advertised in the back of old comic books. The fun doesn’t last long though before what starts off like a dark “American Pie” scenario turns into a reverse date rape of the soul. And as if the whole episode isn’t disturbing enough, the final shot will haunt you for some time.
Tape #2 brings us “Second Honeymoon” by Ti West (House of the Devil, The Innkeepers). A couple that is seemingly not in the best of places relationship wise, are taking a cross country trip and stopping off at the Grand Canyon. As things get quietly strained between the two, young woman randomly comes into the equation. It’s a jarringly quiet segment that along with Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, will do nothing for your fear of rented rooms.
Tape #3 is the odd and inventive “Tuesday the 17th” from “I sell the dead’s Glenn McQuaid. A young woman drives up to a secluded wooded area which affects their camera equipment in the most disturbing ways. Is it the site of a mass murder? Is there a killer on the loose? Or is it the pot talking? The answer will surprise you, even if you think you know the answer. This segment is better than all the Friday the 13thsequels put together,. Proving that the teens in the woods scenario isn’t dead yet!
Perhaps the weirdest tape in the bunch is “The Strange Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger” by Simon Barrett and Joe Swanberg. A young woman moves into an apartment while her boyfriend is away at school. Emily believes she is being haunted by the ghost of children and also has a strange and irritated bump under her arm. As her fear and anxiety grow, nothing will stop her from getting to the bottom of things. Nothing but them! Wow. This one hits hard emotionally and psychologically. It’s sad, indifferent and terrifying. Awesome!
In-between the tapes isn’t exactly a breather either. Every time we go back to our little band of petty criminals, things get worse and worse. Blowing up into a full-fledged fright fest (say that five times fast) of its own.
The final Tape is called 10/31/98 by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin. A group of likeable friends get lost on their way to a Halloween party. The house seems empty at first, but since things get spooky right away, they think that it’s a seasonal haunted house. Their decision to explore leads them down a terrifying path into true and unfathomable terror! The final segment pulls the gloves off is nothing short of absolutely terrifying! I’ll never drive around Pasadena the same way again.
Produced by Bloody-Disgusting’s own Brad Miska, V/H/S/ is a tour de force that touches on everything and yet manages to give you an experience unlike anything you have ever seen before. If you truly love horror, don’t talk to anyone, just turn the lights off, turn the volume up, and watch this film. You’ve been warned.
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