V/H/S (2012)

V/H/S (2012)Starring Calvin Reeder, Lane Hughes, Adam Wingard

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

Discuss V/H/S in the comments section below!


Terminal's picture

I'd give this four and a half stars. Enjoyed it greatly.

Submitted by Terminal on Fri, 01/18/2013 - 2:45am.
kiddcapone's picture

5 out of 5. REALLY? REALLY? REALLY? I've never been so bored. Fuck me.

Submitted by kiddcapone on Thu, 01/17/2013 - 11:52pm.
malcoJOJO's picture

They got a LOT right in this film.

Story was still the main focus. They didn't get too wrapped up in the "See what we're doing? They're tapes. VHS tapes. We're watching them, see?!" gimmick. They came at this film with great material FIRST, then executed - so to speak. :)
They also got the "person shooting with camera" right. Things were not framed perfectly. Things moved like people shooting home movies.
And most importantly, the actors were able to pull off the complex job of acting like they are not acting in all but one case of note. Pretty impressive.

There were "weak links" in the chain (I count two only) but they were still better than the majority of stuff I've seen of late.

Fully agree with the five knives!

Submitted by malcoJOJO on Sat, 10/06/2012 - 4:57am.
BoyWonder513's picture

I was really looking forward to this one, but when I finally saw it I was just bored. There were a few good ideas sprinkled in, but nothing ever got to be used to it's full potential. the group I was watching with just realized that every segment was boring-tits-boring-scare, and the scares didn't do anything for me. The only twist that I didn't see coming was with the couple on the roadtrip, and that was the worse segment. Just really disappointed, I wanted this to be a fun, inspired anthology, but I'll just have to watch Trick 'r Treat again for that.

Submitted by BoyWonder513 on Thu, 09/20/2012 - 1:24am.

There were three good stories and two stinkers. The stinkers are the quasi F13th story and the alien experimentation story. Overall, I thought it was a good film that once again suffered from WAAAAY too much hype.

Submitted by LSD Zombie on Sat, 09/08/2012 - 8:23pm.
nonserviam03's picture

Definitely interested in this one. I love anthology films AND found footage, so it's like this movie was made solely with me in mind haha.

Any news on when the rest of us will be able to see it yet?

Submitted by nonserviam03 on Fri, 01/27/2012 - 6:46pm.
moderator Plans are for a theatrical
Debi Moore's picture

Plans are for a theatrical release in the fall and then VOD.


Submitted by Debi Moore on Fri, 01/27/2012 - 7:08pm.

Uhh, when I read a review for an anthology that calls it absolutely perfect, I kind of expect to hear a little bit about each of the supposedly-perfect segments. This review sounds like it could have been written by someone who hadn't even seen the film. Is it just me, or should we get to hear at least something other than "one's a slasher, one's an alien?" Give each of these supposedly-perfect shorts their individual due!

Submitted by Jenkins on Fri, 01/27/2012 - 5:35pm.
Vanvance1's picture

I don't want to know more. I hate reviews that spoil the movie by giving you a synopsis of all that happens. It's especially egregious for a film that doubtless relies on some surprise elements.

The review gave us an adequate outline of content and tone. Good enough.

Submitted by Vanvance1 on Sat, 01/28/2012 - 3:58am.
moderator Usually our reviews coming
Debi Moore's picture

Usually our reviews coming out of a festival tend to be a bit shorter and less detailed than usual due to the sheer volume of films the reviewer is seeing day to day. We consider them sort of "first look" type teaser reviews. Once they get a regular release (either theatrical or on DVD/Blu-ray), that's when you'll see something much more in-depth.

Submitted by Debi Moore on Fri, 01/27/2012 - 7:07pm.
MagusMaleficus's picture

I love the poster for this movie: plain white board; crudely duct-taped VHS tape; and the title written in black marker. Awesome.

Submitted by MagusMaleficus on Fri, 01/27/2012 - 3:57pm.
Steve Barton's picture

That's not the poster, just a promo item hanging around at Sundance.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Fri, 01/27/2012 - 4:20pm.
MagusMaleficus's picture

Not the poster perhaps, but it is a poster, and they did make several of those. I've seen pictures of at least four.

Submitted by MagusMaleficus on Sat, 01/28/2012 - 1:07pm.
James Coker's picture

also . . . 5 fucking knives!!!! not to mention several other positive reviews . . . SOLD!!!! cant wait to see this one too

Submitted by James Coker on Fri, 01/27/2012 - 2:04am.
nazo's picture

Well, it's probably at least as good as Postal.

Submitted by nazo on Fri, 01/27/2012 - 3:12am.
Steve Barton's picture

Don't fuck with Postal, dude. LOL

Submitted by Steve Barton on Fri, 01/27/2012 - 4:20pm.
nazo's picture

Let me retract my previous comment. Having just watched V/H/S, I can say it's somehow not as good as Postal. My apologies to Dr. Boll for belittling his work.

Submitted by nazo on Fri, 09/21/2012 - 3:19am.
Vanvance1's picture

Hey, I loved Postal. Uwe Boll earned his stripes with that flick.

Submitted by Vanvance1 on Sat, 01/28/2012 - 3:59am.
nazo's picture

I'll agree the opening scene is brilliant, and it is one of Uwe's better movies (not nearly as good as In The Name of The King though). That being said, 5 knives is ridiculous, and the fact that review exists just makes me laugh :)

Submitted by nazo on Sat, 01/28/2012 - 4:14am.
James Coker's picture

wheres Kiddcapone bitching about this one . . . "wah wah wah I hate found footage, im not giving anything a chance wah wah wah"

Submitted by James Coker on Fri, 01/27/2012 - 2:03am.
kiddcapone's picture

I just gave it a chance. WORST FUCKING MOVIE...EVER! And I'm being dead serious.

That was a shitty, boring, ridiculous, waste-of-time. The only segment that kept my attention was the first. Everything else I wanted to fastforward past the horrendous acting and see what lame ending was ahead.

V/H/S took every last inch of my resolve not to shut off in the middle. I really wish I did. It didn't get any better, just more garbage.

I have a new entry in my worst films of all-time list. Easily top 3. I would rather watch Paranormal Activity and The Devil Inside double feature 20 consecutive times before I watch this piece of shit again.

With that being said, on a good day, I'd give it 3.5 knifes...

Submitted by kiddcapone on Fri, 01/18/2013 - 10:47am.
Vanvance1's picture

This is the 3rd positive review I've read for this film. I'm the first to state I hate shakey cams, at the same time I admit there have been successes in the sub-genre (i.e. REC 2). Because I love anthologies and there is a boat load of talent involved I'm really looking forward to seeing this.

Submitted by Vanvance1 on Thu, 01/26/2012 - 6:47pm.
moderator I agree about really looking
Debi Moore's picture

I agree about really looking forward to this one. Just when you think the whole found footage thing has hit a brick wall, along comes something like this to (hopefully) remind you that when it's done well, not much else is creepier.

Submitted by Debi Moore on Thu, 01/26/2012 - 7:10pm.

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