Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his house and find collection of VHS tapes. Viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be dark motives behind the student's disappearance.
A POV, found footage horror film from the perspective of America's top genre filmmakers. A group of misfits are hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house in the countryside and acquire a rare tape. Upon searching the house, the guys are confronted with a dead body, a hub of old televisions and an endless supply of cryptic footage, each video stranger than the last. Written by
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Back up. Back up, back up. Turn around, turn around.
[the men wearing masks drive by a couple walking, then the men get out of their vehicle to confront the couple]
[the cameraman tells the other assailiant]
Show her tits! Ha ha ha! Whoo!
[the cameraman notices the boyfriend of the girl charge after them]
Oh, shit! Run, run, run! Go, go go!
[the camera cuts to the footage afterwards of the men destroying a building]
It's cool, huh?
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The horror anthology has a chequered history, some are bad but saved by one great segment, others boast a couple of genuine creepers but are undone by one instalment so bad it tarnishes the film forever. And on it goes. V/H/S brings the format into the new age by unfolding its tales by wrapping around the latest craze of found footage.
Six indie directors have produced a picture that was well received at Sundance but has proved to be most divisive with critics and horror fans on internet forums. This will come as no surprise to anyone who knows their horror anthology onions. The usual problems are evident here, a couple of great stories are surrounded by mediocre ones, but at least there is something for everyone, with most bases covered, but that in itself is a problem, all horror fans have preferences, it's a big ask to expect a fan of stalk and slash to love a story about a winged harpy!
Then there is the issue of the found footage format, here recorded on actual VHS. Not everyone is a fan (myself for instance), and much of V/H/S is dizzying and often hard to follow, especially as regards the Tape 56/frame narrative story that cloaks the other five stories as a bunch of no-mark young crims burgle a grotty house and sift through the tapes. It's a format loved by many for its supposed realism factors, I don't get that myself, but for those people this really is up their trees!
Amateur Night (David Bruckner) and The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger (Joe Swanberg) are the standouts. The former is a cautionary tale of frat boys out for sex who get more than they bargained for when they take home the mysterious Lily, the latter an eerie tale unfolded via Skype communication as Emily appears to be a victim of a haunting whilst chatting to her doctor boyfriend.
However, if you ask another fan of the film what stories they feel standout, you may just get two different answers. So as with any other anthology horror, you roll the dice and take your chance, just don't expect genius in every story, for that is purely folly of expectation. 7/10
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