Directed by David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, Joe Swanberg, Ti West, Adam Wingard
Another day at Sundance brings us V/H/S from The Collective and Bloody Disgusting. To be honest, I was a little skeptical when I read “found footage” and “anthology” used in the same sentence, but this collaboration of directors managed to put together a phenomenal piece of work and made all my fears disappear in a very short period of time.
All five shorts and the wrap-around fit seamlessly together, bringing an entirely new spin on the seemingly exhausted found footage flavor of genre films. It is a relief that this style of filmmaking, though overused, can still have an entry that is enjoyable from start to finish.
The plot involves a group of degenerate lowlifes who normally fancy sexually assaulting women in order to make $50 off a tit shot on the internet using a simple video camera. These hoodlums are hired by an unknown video collector to break into a house and acquire a VHS tape, of which they are told “they will know it when they see it.”
After entering the home and finding the only occupant dead, they go in search of the elusive tape, only to find that this collector has a huge library himself and their tape is not as recognizable as they were informed. The men decide they must take all of the videos and watch them in order to decipher which tape is the correct one. These viewed tapes are the shorts to follow in the anthology.
Every segment of the anthology has something different to offer all horror fans. We have slashers, aliens, a maniac that kills people in their sleep, ghosts and even a hybrid cat/vampire that can’t help but rip people’s throats out for fun. Each bit is shot very raw, and one is even shot entirely with a webcam on a laptop. This is what makes this anthology work: the media. The entire feature feels gritty like you are actually watching something on VHS. It has that extreme 80’s vibe written all over it. V/H/S dishes out simple scares and taps into reality by using simplistic grimy imagery and just enough gore to make you squirm in your seat.
There is little bad that can be said about V/H/S, although some may not appreciate the order of the series of events. Some will no doubt feel that the wrap-around is a bit misplaced. Personally I was a bit shaken up by the order, as nothing happens the way you would expect it to. To me that's a very good thing, and it serves to keep viewers on their toes.
After the Q&A with the directors we learned it was changed up a time or two, still allowing for five shorts for the audience to enjoy. This possible “misalignment” does not take anything visually away from the film, but it could cause some slight confusion. Of special mention are the effects, which were outstanding and all practical, making it fell all the more real.
Some may say that shaky cam is used only by those that can’t afford to make a real film or those that have no imagination. In this case I will certainly have to disagree as this is by far one of the best of its kind in recent memory. See this as soon as you can, and treat yourself to a great piece of work from the gleefully twisted minds of the many talented directors utilized here. Then hope all of them send more fright fests like this our way soon.
5 out of 5