User ReviewsReview this title
With that out of the way, let me honestly try to convince you that my small review on this film is mainly based on its merits, and not just what I enjoy personally.
I think the credit is due to the effort that went behind making this film, because even though each of the video tapes the guys find and watch are very strange and hard to swallow, they have genuinely tried hard to convey a sense of realism.
But it also helps if the viewer made a little effort, and suspended your disbelief in order to get into the film. Some people can do this easier than others. If your a horror fan, this will entertain at the very least. Each of the five found tapes start off innocently enough like home movies, but each one reveals shocking footage of something strange or unravels into a horrifying ordeal. It reminded me of 'Tales of the unexpected' or 'The Twilight Zone' but with the use of a hand-held camera instead.
Again, it'll either work for you or it wont. But the makers of this film tried hard and kudos to them. The effects were great, the acting was as expected, just as in any 'found footage', if its going to convey realism, its NOT going to have Oscar worthy acting, don't forget these are meant to be 'real' people. And the stories behind each tape were all entertaining.
In the end then, before you watch it, heres some top tips; Turn the lights out. Keep telling yourself that what you are watching is 'real'. Open your mind. And enjoy.
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
I'm highly disappointed, the previews made this look good and I couldn't wait for it to come out. It's B list work at best. The cast is a group of unknowns but it wouldn't even be considered a "good movie" if the cast was made up of more recognizable faces. The fact that people are trying to pass this off as "found footage" is sad. For a "found footage" film to be successful, the story as to why it was recorded in the first place should be plausible at best. The 5 "found footage" VHS tapes/stories that make up the length of this movie are no where near plausible by any means.
There are very few scares, if any at all. The only parts you could consider scary are when there's a sudden loud noise you weren't expecting or a quick turn of the camera towards something you weren't expecting. But don't get me wrong, even those typical hallmark scares aren't even scary in this particular film.
If you want to add two hours of disappointment into your day, then I would suggest watching this movie.
First of all every character in this movie is terrible. They're either perverted frat boy assholes or completely void of personality. They're not the kind of characters you can't wait to be killed, they're the kind of characters you can't wait to stop listening to. I know there's no time to really flesh out any characters in an anthology, but you can at least give them a personality, these guys are just boring, boring, boring.
The plot of most of these shorts are only possible through monumentally stupid decisions from the characters. They never call the call the cops, are constantly tripping while running away (maybe if you dropped the camera...), and the overarching plot characters are the stupidest of them all.
There's no bow-tie at the end connecting all these stories, and therefore no need for the very bland overarching story itself. However in a few of the tapes the mystery is strong enough to keep you interested and some of the tension is pretty thrilling, although it never really pays off.
I would be more forgiving of the cliché story and characters if it was easier to watch, and I'd be more forgiving of the found footage faux-pas if it had better stories. But this is the worst of both worlds, I would give this a 4/10 but I'm bumping it up 1 for the tits.
The found footage idea isn't wholly a terrible idea, the problem is that it just doesn't usually work. By usually, I mean ever. Horror as a genre has been falling apart at the seams for years, and the advent of "found- footage" certainly hasn't helped. In fact, it feels like it's making a mockery out of horror rather than restoring it to glory.
Enough about that. Regarding the film: The first problem we get here is that the writers/directors have two hours to piece together six cohesive stories. That's fine, but if that's the case, we need to only focus on the important stuff here. Half the time, you'll feel like you're watching some stranger's home movie collection. It's drab, it's boring, it doesn't serve to build suspense, it just drags. You see, when we only get twenty minutes with characters, we don't give a hoot about what they're like. All footage should serve the story, and it just doesn't here. So yes, a lot of the film dragged and a lot of the film was boring.
The second huge problem: the scary stuff. There isn't enough of it. There isn't enough that was supposed to be there in the first place, and most of what you get is just goofy. There were a few jump scares that weren't done all that effectively due to some of the worst camera work the world has ever seen. We understand that this is supposed to be amateur shot footage. That doesn't mean people film themselves walking around with friends while wildly waving their arms around like a complete lunatic. So when you aren't sure what you're looking at and your eyes are constantly struggling to adjust, the few jump scares that were put in the film no longer serve a purpose.
I'm not sure if my next complaint should be lodged against the actors or the writers. Maybe both? All of the characters, I mean ALL of the characters, are incredibly unlikable or plain bothersome. There's a character that basically just cackles through an entire story. There's a character that has no personality aside from leaving her mouth agape at all times. So yeah, the acting was pretty bad, but the writing was probably the worst part of the whole thing. One story in particular was such a joke on the writing front, we couldn't contain our laughter watching it. Not because it was supposed to be funny either.
So here we have six basically nonsensical and incomprehensible stories that lack direction, character, motivations or scares and we throw it all together to create one low-res pile of crap. We have scenes that make NO SENSE in regards to how it ended up on a VHS tape, uninspired concepts, terrible camera work, and just terrible writing.
Here is another Paranormal Activity: TONS of hype, great press and reviews, but underneath all of that is a really uniquely awful film. I'm serious; I thought it was really that bad. Uniquely awful in just how inept and uninspired it is.
Want a compilation horror film that tries to tackle a few sub-genres of horror? Try Trick-R-Treat. It wasn't anything spectacular, but it was enjoyable and well written. V/H/S is something I hope dies and people forget about by Christmas. What an awful, awful film.
Wrap-around: 30 something douchers acting like angsty pre-teens inexplicably move from assaulting couples for the purpose of filming boobs, to home invasion to find a VHS tape. We get into the group dynamic when a heated discussion arises whether they should grow their brand from filming boobs to filming asses as well, which inevitably escalates to someone smashing a TV with a bat. Let it be known, that it's strictly boobs -- and stealing creepy tapes -- from here on out. They have no idea what tape they are supposed to take in a home filled with 'creepy' tapes. Why are they still there?! There are way too many tapes to take. They are all strange. They have no idea what they are looking for. Let's sit down and watch some of the strange tapes? How will that help you find this needle in a haystack. The most poor thing about this wraparound...is that we never discovered the tape they were looking for that might have shed light on this clumsy setup.
First Tape: Definitely the strongest, though it ended very weirdly. I thought the girl was some sort of feral cat-woman. The story plays this up pretty nicely...and in the last 30 seconds throws that all out the window revealing that she is full-on vampire with bat-wings...sigh. I will reiterate that this is the strongest tale.
Second Tape: Some newlyweds(?) go on a boring roadtrip. Of course they must record every minute of this tired, banal odyssey. If you think the level of contrivance for why the camera is running is high at this point, just wait for the reveal...
Third Tape: Awful. Kid's go to lake to get high and screw and get massacred. The 'twist' is that one of the girls planned this to lure out a madman that had killed her friends years ago. The second 'twist' is that he's paranormal and can't be filmed. The third 'twist' is...I dunno. If the first part of this short is a mess, the third act is the inevitable mindless lobotomized result.
Fourth Tape: Nothing in this one makes sense. It also isn't scary. The characters are all annoying. I can't believe this even survived the cutting room floor and made it in THIS horrible anthology.
Fifth Tape: The finale! The tale is pretty lackluster and seems like a student film project focusing on CGI effects work.
Did I mention that the wraparound ended before the fifth tape was even played? Sloppy at every step.
Good one Brad Miska, you conned your entire community to make a quick buck on your crappy film. No wonder you concealed the fact that this was your aborted baby while punching it up all over Bloody Disgusting for months.
I won't reveal many details of the contents but, amongst other things, there is a vampire, malevolent ghosts, a supernatural serial killer, a house invader and a weird ritual. There's a skillful combination of visceral and suggested horror. From the former there are several scenes of blood and guts including a beheading by knife and some disembowellings. But it's the mysterious moments that create the genuine tension, such as sinister figures seen briefly on camera, strange sounds and general weird goings on. The combination with both styles of horror is very successful. Overall, I have to say that this is a rather fine example of a recent horror film. It's genuinely unsettling quite often and the anthology format means that no idea overstays its welcome. It's definitely worth catching this one.
I would hate to think that teenagers are watching this filth. What is the world coming to at all. I thought horror movies were supposed to be scary. This was a yawn fest. I was genuinely so bored I had to turn it off. I could not connect to any of the caricatures and the story line or lack of it was going nowhere. If this is, were horror movies are going it is a travesty.
This is only my opinion of what I thought of this film. Everyone is free to voice there own. I have always been a lover of a good horror movie. However, this one just does not make the cut. That is why I am only giving it a 1-10 unfortunately. I think the word beside the number speaks for itself (awful).
I enjoyed each and every segment, though the two the stand up the best to post-Experience scrutiny are probably Bruckner's (AMATEUR NIGHT) and Swanburg's (THE STRANGE THING THAT HAPPENED TO EMILY WHEN SHE WAS YOUNG). In AMATEUR NIGHT, a couple of guys give a pair of Spycam glasses to a friend and the three go out to have a wild night on the town. They end up bringing two young woman back to their apartment, one of whom seems extremely "game", while the other might as well actually BE game, in as much as she behaves like an excited, yet cautious animal, her eyes always bugged out, her head turning sharply and rapidly at every movement or sound, and rather than speak, she hisses in barely intelligible verbalized feral spurts. And sure enough, once her clothes come off, one discovers that there's much more to this gal than could ever have been imagined.
As for STRANGE THING THAT HAPPENED TO EMILY, this one involves a series of (often stationary) Skype video conversations between a man and a women, the later convinced that a peculiar entity is inside her house, perhaps the ghost of a child with which she hopes to communicate while her boyfriend helplessly looks on through the laptop screen. Those who easily get queasy from constant "swingcam" footage, will be particularly pleased with the inclusion of this one.
The other segments are: Second Honeymoon (Ti West) - A couple's vacation is compromised by a mysterious nocturnal intruder.
Tuesday the 17th (Glenn McQuaid) - A young woman is not honest about her intentions when she brings her friends out to a secluded spot in the woods where several murders once occurred.
10/31/98 (Radio Silence) - Friends set off for a party dressed up in lame Halloween costumes, but instead of arriving at their intended destination, they find themselves in a demoniacally haunted house at the absolute worst time possible.
and the wraparound... Tape 56 (Adam Wingard) - Some guys are paid to break into a house and steal a video tape. When they get there they find a dead man and DOZENS of tapes. In order to find the tape they've been asked to steal, they begin watching the tapes one after another (the other 5 stories being what they find on those tapes).
the synopsis is deceiving and I was so disappointed I almost stopped watching it.
Really purely on special effects(Which are mediocre at best) and intrigue (Namely, 'Surely this film has to get better?'), it has nothing going for it!
I am a massive fan of the genre of Horror dating back from the 1970s upwards, I'll admit many of the new horrors really lack something these days and tend to go more for the 'scare' or 'graphic' factors, this film is 7, maybe 10 (In honesty I stopped counting through boredom) short films with a sub plot.
The acting wasn't even worth getting excited about. I suppose if I'd gone into this film with more information on what its about I would have been happier.
The best horror anthologies work because many stories only really work in 15-20 minute segments, and even when one story is disappointing it's over fast enough and you move on to the next one. The best of the bunch (Creepshow, Trilogy of Terror, Tales from the Crypt, etc.) also show a creative variety with a variety of different characters, settings and types of stories. I also usually enjoy the "frame" story that provides one overall twist right at the end.
Unfortunately the stories in V/H/S are highly under-developed and rather same-y after a while. Two of the five segments and the wrap-around feature borderline rapist fratboy types who receive a horrible comeuppance; this theme would work in one segment but it becomes repetitive. Like several of the segments, the central frame doesn't come to any definitive conclusion and leaves more questions than it answers. V/H/S may have worked better if the frame wasn't also told in camera POV style.
The film features a lot of gore and nudity but most of it is gratuitous and unsexy. It really doesn't capture the EC Comics feel of a lot of the best of this type of film. Overall I felt that V/H/S was slavishly faithful to its central concept, at the expense of delivering real scares or even making sense. I'll give a real brief review of each segment, with minor spoilers:
Amateur Night: A trio of college aged dooshbags head out on the town looking for women. One of the group is wearing glasses outfitted with a camera, in the hopes of filming one of his buddies doing the deed. Needless to say they pick up the absolute wrong woman. This one features a few legitimate scares and a decent ending but also feels under-baked. 6/10
Second Honeymoon: A young married couple take a road trip to the Grand Canyon. They're stalked and pursued by a masked woman, who films them sleeping in their motel room with their own camera. The violence at the end is shocking but the twist has no context and makes no sense at all. A huge disappointment, given that this one was directed by Ti West, director of the excellent Innkeepers. 4/10
Saturday the 17th: Very dumb "meta-slasher" with a lot of gore but another dumb twist and very annoying main characters. The villain (the Glitch) is interesting but again, really no point or answers. 5/10
The Sick Thing that Happened to Emily When She was Younger: A young girl and her boyfriend, a doctor out of town on his residency, have a conversation about the girl's apparently haunted apartment. This one succeeds in being creepy and the gimmick, showing the story entirely through Skype conversations, was fun. Unfortunately we get more totally unnecessary nudity and the twist, while interesting, makes no sense at all. 6/10
10/31/98: Four guys go to a Halloween party and end up at the WRONG house. This one is by far the most effects heavy and cinematic and really worked for those reasons. Some unanswered questions but overall pretty satisfying. Too bad it came last and I was bored by that point. 7/10
The frame movie: 2/10. Sucked straight through.
Overall an interesting failure.
Tape 56 (directed by Adam Wingate): The opening shows a small crew of petty thugs filming while: forcibly exposing a woman's breasts in public, vandalizing an abandoned building, being intimate with a girl friend who does not know about the camera. They discuss rates. Fifty bucks for each porn incident, and so on. One of the crew recommends jump shifting to loftier crimes that pay better.
They line it up, and that starts the adventure of finding that one special tape. They find a dead older man plus VHS tape players. Beyond that, they find a supply of video tapes to sort through.
The thugs meet problems that they cannot solve.
Amateur Night (directed by David Bruckner): Shane and Patrick setup Clint with 'video glasses' so he can record what is in front of him. They go to a bar and pick up Lisa and Lily and proceed to a motel. Lisa soon passes out. Patrick only sits and laughs. Lily wants to do things with Clint, but he shies away. Shane takes off Lily's dress, which was all she was wearing. Clint gets enough courage to record Shane and Lily. Patrick is still wobbly, but he takes off his clothes so he can sandwich Lily with Shane. Clint runs away again; Lily bites Patrick. Lily is straddling Shane as Clint approaches again. She's morphed into a vampire. Things end very badly for Shane, Patrick, and Clint.
Second Honeymoon (directed by Ti West): Sam and Stephanie go on a road trip in the desert of the American West for their second honeymoon. They are recording a tape for future memories.
These are two germaphobes on a field trip who stop at cheap jack motels. Clever.
Sam wants to record Stephanie while they are making out; she demurs. Sigh. Turn the camera off and record later. Knock at the door; it is some girl who asks for a ride the next day. The figure Sam saw earlier quietly breaks in, steals 100 USD from Sam, nearly cuts up Stephanie's underwear while she's still in it, but makes a clean, silent getaway.
The next day they discuss the loss of 100 USD, but do not figure it out. They do some sight-seeing and plan the remaining parts of the trip. That night, they get a visitor who films them again. This time, she kills Sam, and records herself kissing Stephanie. Ah, pro-lesbian PC, plus anti-male PC.
Tuesday the 17th (directed by Glenn McQuaide): Joey, Samantha, Spider, and Wendy are on a field trip. They stop by a lake for a drug smoking break, then go swimming. Wendy tells a story about a killer who took out four people by the very same lake. Then she laughs it off. Spider and Samanthe get a giant knife through their brains. Wendy gets the camera, then returns to Joey, and asks him to have sex with her. Things do not turn out well for Joey or for Wendy.
The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger (directed by Joe Swanberg): Weird things happen as Emily and James have a video conference. She refers to a time when she and James were apart when they were young, and bad things happened to her. He should have recorded their chat the second time when the weird noises start. She uses a Kodak on her living room and catches the figure of a child.
She asks the super of her apartment about previous deaths in her apartment. No such thing; the only renters were students without children. That night he records, and several figures are captured on the chat. They start a partial dissection of Emily. James is in cahoots with them. James keeps communicating with her, and never lets her know what a complete traitor his is. How can this turn out? Was Emily the only one James is abusing?
10/31/98 (directed by Radio Silence):
Four young adult males (Chad, Matt, Tyler, and Paul) go to a Halloween costume party. They bring a nanny cam. The house where the party is to be held has an unlocked door with the lights on. No one is at home. They keep looking for the party.
They call out for their friend Justin, who should be there, but no such luck.
They hear voices in the attic, and think that is where the party is. They find several men torturing a tied up woman. At first they think it is the party, but the torturers very much convince them it is not. They run away at first, but decide her trouble is for real, and go back to save her. That sort of works until she leads them into more problems.
Cinematography: 2/10 Features low-end cameras, bad framing, insufficient light, bad focus, and terrible lack of contrast. Then of course, there are shaking camera movements, anti-relevant POV, and old bad recording media. One of my least favorites is where the camera is left on to record time going by in a room where nothing moves, often in complete darkness.
Sound: 5/10 Who cares? More often noise than anything else: audio chaos to go with the video chaos.
Acting: 0/10 The only actor of note is the camera. The camera trumps the efforts of all actors.
Screenplay: 2/10 Boring. Short on plot. Badly executed with next to zero motivation. Worst of all, not the least bit scary.
(SHORT REVIEW: The film is so disjointed and illogical that you are simply frustrated at the end, not scared. First time I've ever seen the overall arching storyline conclude before the sub-stories conclude, it's that non-sensical!!)
The trailer got me really hyped up for this film, as did a solid 80% rating on RT. Frankly, I don't know what is wrong is the critics to give this piece of **** any credibility.
The premise starts off intriguing enough; it's "wraparound story" of a bunch of petty criminals break into a creepy house with a dead guy in it to steal a certain VHS tape (they don't know which one). So they start viewing some of the tapes and we, the audience, are treated to a front- row show.
Some of these tapes viewed are good; my favourite is the last one, 10/31/98, where cool paranormal stuff happens and there's a predictable but satisfying twist. I would be happy if this was a standalone film.
Others, like SECOND HONEYMOON, are awful because it's just violent, not scary. When the camera turns on and starts recording in the middle of the night, it's a shock when you realize that the one recording is neither of the couple. But then this mysterious creep pulls out a switchblade, and subsequently jacks $100 from a wallet, all on camera. What the ****?? That's not scary at all. Someone recording themselves doing a break & enter does not classify as "horror".
Anyway, as a viewer you forgive these stupid plot lines because you keep anticipating that the "wraparound story" will eventually conclude, with something connecting these completely unrelated stories. Joke's on you, sucker!
The conclusion of the wraparound story — which builds itself up to something very creepy — is disappointing and not scary (***SPOILER AGAIN*** surprise! Dead guy ain't dead...is he a zombie? Demon? No idea, he doesn't actually do anything scary). And WORST OF ALL...it ISN'T the end of the film!!!
Inexplicably, a final tape (10/31/98) is played AFTER that wraparound story concludes. It's insulting to the audience how stupid this is, and the only redeeming quality is that 10/31/98 is a decent story.
If the film was presented properly as a collection of horror shorts (with proper title cards and all), then it would be a little better. But it's not, and worse, there is an overall arc that is supposed to connect everything together to make you think "OHHH! That's why! Man, that's scary!!" but does not.
Yes, there are a good number of hide-behind-your-buddy scary moments, but there is NOTHING more disappointing than a horror movie that leaves you frustrated and disappointed enough to write a 1-star review on IMDb in the middle of the night.
Movie is split into couple different stories - guys loot some dead perv basement, got his VHS tapes collection and start watching it. All of the stories are super boring, reminds me Tales From Crypt with some extra nudity (which doesn't help anyway). Killing scenes look like from cheap 70' Italian grade B horror flick.
Pretty much I had to skip scenes coz couldn't handle boredom.
Cheap student like production. Boring and boring again. Don't bother watching.