V/H/S review

Take all of your favorite aspects of any “found footage” movie, put them in a bag with the same type of creativity that was the driving force behind your favorite anthology films, shake the hell out of that bag and when you open it you just might come close to the masterpiece that is V/H/S.

If you’re a horror buff you’ve been hearing about this movie for months. You’ve heard the rumors that it’s terrifying, suspenseful and brilliant. I can state explicitly that those rumors are valid, 100% truthful statements. “Scariest movie of the year” is a well earned description.

If you haven’t already done your research, the main storyline in V/H/S is about four relatively petty criminals who get tasked with a job requiring them to break into a house and locate a specific VHS tape. Once they finally enter the house they come to find that not only is there a dead body inside, there are also numerous video tapes. They’ll have to watch them to find the right one. While the others go to investigate the rest of the house one is left behind with the body to begin watching the first tape. This is where the movie transitions to the first segment.

At this point there is a part of me that is absolutely itching to launch into a vivid description of every dark and imaginative detail of this movie. I won’t do that to you though. Go into this movie with only the knowledge of the previous paragraph if possible. Don’t let anybody tell you what happens beforehand. Any expectations you have of this movie will be satisfied and most likely surpassed.

One of the best features of this film is the differing writing and directing styles between the different segments. Five separate entities each contributed a short work of art that, when compiled with the other four stories as well as the main arc, bring together every element that is required to make a good horror movie become an amazing horror movie. Because of this it is impossible to determine which segment could be better than any of the others.

In all honesty the atmosphere of the first segment, brought to us by David Bruckner (The Signal), legitimately had me squirming in my seat the entire time. Fans of The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers will rejoice in knowing that Ti West delivers a great segment that holds true to his consistency of climactic endings. A pair of stories – one by Glenn McQuaid (I Sell the Dead) and the other by Joe Swanberg – both possess such unique qualities that display a vast resource of creativity not mirrored in a lot of modern horror entries while newcomers Radio Silence close the movie out with a bang, quite literally.

Now it’s time to discuss the discrepancies. I’m sure that the first criticism out of most viewers’ mouths will be the fact that most of these stories take place in the 21st century. Therefore, a digital medium was used in the recordings, not analog. So why title the movie V/H/S? I’ll touch on this in a moment. Another issue some may have with this movie is just how found footage from some of the segments could have even been found in the first place. The answer to the second issue leads to the answer to the first issue. Clearly the movie exists in a world where disbelief is to be suspended in order for any of the stories to be able to take place. If this is so, then it can’t be that far of a stretch to allow for the fact that this footage was somehow salvaged in each incident. Furthering that notion, can it be too hard to imagine the possibility that this footage at some point could be transferred to a video cassette and end up in the old man’s home? My point is this: don’t focus on trivial items you may deem as flaws. It is extremely plausible that this was the very intention in the first place. Speculation makes people think.

Suspense, gore, lust, betrayal, monsters, the supernatural, the not-so-supernatural and a handful of well placed jump scares round out this omnibus with the utmost of morbid senses of pleasure. It’s quite evident that every person who collaborated on this project brought their A-game to the table. As stated earlier, the writing and directing are astonishingly brilliant. The acting is spot on, quite possibly due to the fact that the directors of some of the segments acted in the movie as well. Even the camerawork brings the viewer into the movie as a passive onlooker experiencing everything nearly first-hand. As for the special effects – don’t even get me started: Dazzling, spectacular. That’s about all I can say without giving away parts of the movie.

V/H/S jumps entirely outside of the mainstream. In doing so it is determined to become a contender for many horror fans’ future top ten lists. Just be prepared to pick your jaw up off the floor when the closing credits begin to roll.

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