Here is another found footage movie for the books, but this one smells like a frat house.
I love a good anthology horror movie, my favourite being The Monster Club, a 1981 collection of stories that had cheese, monsters, and it’s fun. V/H/S is not really fun and stars lots of bros. Doing stuff to get, or get at, chicks. In essence, a lot of horror involves boobies and hot girls, but there is a tongue-in-cheek “given” of fantasy. It’s a fine line to walk, and an easy one to cross, so it requires finesse. Unfortunately, this movie cracks a can of beer one-handed, chugs it, belches real loud, and crushes the can on its forehead.
The stories are tied together by Tape 56 (dir. Adam Wingard). A group of violent hipster criminals are hired to break into a house and steal a vhs tape. As they tear around the mostly empty house, each one realizes that the tape is in a vcr in a room full of T.V.’s and the only person watching is a dead man in an armchair. Each hipster hunkers down to watch this found tape and we are shown 5 shorts:
Amateur Night (dir. David Bruckner) brings us 3 creeps with spy camera glasses who think it would be fun to film something x-rated, some amateur porno with girls they pull from bars. They get more than they bargain for when a big-eyed weird girl they pick up gets hungry.
Next up is Second Honeymoon (dir. Ti West). We follow a young couple on a road trip. They kind of get along and try to have fun checking out small towns and nasty hotels. One night, a young woman knocks on their hotel door to ask for a ride. She is creepy, gains access to their room while they sleep, and plays an unexpected role on this road trip.
Tuesday the 17th (dir. Glenn McQuaid) was my least favourite. Taking the standard 4 kids at the lake/cabin/camp with a killer formula, this director tries to inject new life into it. Bleh! Next!
The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger (dir. Joe Swanberg) was more orginial. It used video web chat to magnify isolation and one’s fear of being alone. Emily is convinced her new apartment is haunted and calls her boyfriend online so he can witness the weird noises to prove she is not paranoid. What happens is an interesting twist on the ghost story that I didn’t see coming at all.
10/31/98 (dir. Radio Silence) shows us more bros heading to a Halloween party. They find a house void of revellers and think the chills and thrills they experience there are part of the night’s festivities. They soon realize that the party is in the attic, but no one brought the dip. Just daggers, rope and maybe posession.
I’m a little annoyed at this film. While the point of view was cleverly done in a couple shorts, I expected more. The characters, both men and women, were one-dimensional. Everyone was either really mean or really clueless. I understand that it must be difficult to cram plot and character developement into a short, but they just didn’t sit right with me. I recognized Joe Swanberg from A Horrible Way to Die, which was a great film, directed by Amateur Night’s Adam Wingard. Swanberg is a solid actor and did a good job with his installment for V/H/S. I also didn’t mind 10/31/98 because it had an interesting twist on formulaic horror. Ti West, however, who directed the amazing House of the Devil, has been on my shit list since The Innkeepers (Yawn! Too long!) He gets a pass only because he too threw a curve ball at the ending of his piece. These directors all have a good body of work behind them. This project seems like it was dreamt up over brews and buds; a network of buddies with budgets. Innovative, yes, but definitely not my fave.