The ‘V/H/S’ Is Deemed Obsolete
Published: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
The found-footage horror film trend continues this Halloween with a number of hits so far, including Sinister and Paranormal Activity 4. Even smaller movies are getting in on the action as well. V/H/S, which made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival this past January, proves that it is a lot more dedicated to the genre than those other more expensive films.
While it’s plausible that the movie was actually shot using handheld cameras because of the grainy shots and camera movement, V/H/S is neither scary nor mainstream. It’s disturbing and grisly.
Because of the dark nature of the film, distributor Magnet Releasing made a very smart choice by releasing the movie on Video On Demand and select theatres because I imagine the average viewer would probably walk out of theaters after the first 30 minutes or so. Point blank, the film is that disgusting.
Cut into six short stories, revolving around the discovery of a VHS tape, the audience is first introduced to a group of male friends that are ransacking an old house to get paid. They discover the dead body of an old man and a slew of VHS tapes as well. Not surprisingly, one of the guys puts one into the TV, and we are transported to the second story.
The footage on the tape is from another group of friends who have put a video camera on a pair of glasses in the hopes of having sex with women they meet at bars and taping it. Things don’t go as planned and the guys only bring home two women, one of whom is a petite girl, with bugging eyes, and can only speak the words, “I like you.” The guys are too drunk to care how weird she is, and soon try to hook up with her. Apparently, they were also too stupid to notice that she had horned feet. Before long, as you might imagine, two of the guys fall victim to her vampire/gargoyle ways. The other friend tries to escape, but it’s no use. The tape ends with the blurry image of his death.
While that scene might sound like your typical horror film, reminiscent of a film like Hostel or Saw, it is really much worse. The sequence is completely off-putting—not because it is scary, just because it is flat-out gross. If you manage to continue on after these first 40 minutes, be warned, things don’t get much better or even much scarier.
The only real scare comes during the fourth story, when a group of four friends make the “smart” decision to spend the day in the woods. After they smoke weed and skinny dip in a river, things start to go awry. One of the girls is convinced that a man, who is really just a blur, haunts the woods. As you can imagine, one by one the friends are picked off. Influenced by elements from The Blair Witch Project, this portion of the film is the most suspenseful.
It’s also important to note that your patience for the shaky camera shots will probably run thin by the end of the movie. As it is, the film, at nearly two hours, runs way too long. The acting, too, is painfully over-the-top.
If any element of the movie deserves praise, it’s the makeup, which is impressive considering the low production budget.
Those looking for a good scare on Halloween night would be wiser to watch a more established film, like one from the Paranormal series. Even better, why not watch a classic like Scream or The Exorcist? V/H/S, filled with profanity, nudity, and gore, is distinctively low-budget—not that that should count against it. In fact, low-budget horror films tend to be scarier than their high budget counterparts (case in point: Paranormal Activity, or last year’s Insidious). Yet what V/H/S failed to bring is any creativity and any genuine scares. Like VHS tapes, this film is out of touch with the times.