Film Review – V/H/S

With news of David Bruckner being touted as the new director for the Friday 13th Franchise, here’s a reminder from the archive of one of his previous projects from Bill Gordon…

‘V/H/S’ is a handheld horror anthology directed by Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West (Director of the incredibly creepy and vintage ‘House of The Devil’ and ‘Innkeepers’), Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg and the directing quartet known as ‘Radio Silence’.  First of all, I think it’s best going in to ‘V/H/S’ not knowing much, so I will try keep away from summarising the short stories and just give my overall opinion, so this isn’t going to be a very long review.  However, I can say what you should already know; ‘V/H/S’ follows the story of group of misfits that are hired by an unknown party to break into a desolate house and acquire a rare V/H/S tape, they discover more than one tape, not knowing which it is, they start to watch them.

There are 5 shorts overall, each one telling a completely different story, each one original in their own way, unfortunately that does mean there are some that are much more superior to others.  The first short follows 3 lads going for a night out, they have made camera glasses so they can film themselves having sex with drunken girls without the girl realising, so already, it’s given us a good, different reason as to why they are filming.  Without saying too much, the first short is one of the best; the acting feels natural and realistic, with a few laughs along the way.  As with all the shorts in the anthology, things turn for the worst and we are left gripping on to our seats in the final sequence, and it’s safe to say it’ll make you think twice about meeting girls on a night out.

The second short is by Ti West, yet you wouldn’t know, this follows a couple going away for the weekend, and documenting their travels.  This one is definitely the most eerie, with a few uncomfortable moments.  Again, the acting is up to standards and believable, with a twist at the end that you will not see coming.  This short is nothing that will scare you too much, but you respect it for its ideas.

The third short follows a group of young friends going to the woods; again this is just a typical documentation of their travels.  Unfortunately, this is where the acting starts to get questionable, it feels a lot like a student movie, with below average acting, but again, you have to respect it for its idea, I don’t want to give any hint of what each story actually involves, but this one is where the gore is at, and the special effects are pretty damn good.

The fourth film decides to take a different route, and is all from the POV of a laptop video chat, again it has nice ideas, and out of all the shorts was the first to make me jump.  They could have done so much more with this short; unfortunately the twist comes and decides to go down a completely different path, which for me personally, ruined it, but others may like it.  Again, the acting is pretty below average, but without saying anything, I like to believe that it was like that for a reason.  This short was definitely the low point of the movie for me.

Finally we get to the final short, and what a finale it is.  We follow a group of friends attending a Halloween party, the whole film is from the point of view of one guy’s costume (dressed up as a teddy bear nanny camera), it is a refreshing take on their reasons for filming (like the first short).  Again, like the first short, we have our laughs, the acting is believable and feels real, and again things turn for the worst, but in an exciting way.  Unfortunately, once it’s finished you can’t help but want more.

Overall, ‘V/H/S’ is a breath of fresh air to the found-footage genre, and will definitely keep you entertained, unfortunately, even though there are some great pieces of work, there is also some work that is below average, but everyone will have their own favourites.  The quality of the footage varies from each film, depending on the type of camera used, which I liked, none of them are perfect though, as they are meant to look like V/H/S quality, which really is what Paranormal 3 should have looked like.  During all these shorts, there is another story going on, which is extremely mysterious and really left me thinking, but I won’t go any further as I don’t want to spoil it, as I think it’s best to go in not knowing much at all.  ‘V/H/S’ covers almost every horror sub-genre, one of the shorts reminded me a lot of ‘Grave Encounters’ (I won’t say which), so there will be something for everyone, hopefully they won’t get too carried away with sequels, but I can say there are a lot more tapes, so a sequel could be on the cards.  I usually don’t like giving .5 reviews, but some of the acting and one of the shorts let it down for me, yet I still thoroughly enjoyed it. It won’t keep you awake at night, but it will keep you entertained.


Individual ratings:

Short 1 – 8/10
Short 2 – 6/10
Short 3 – 5/10
Short 4 – 4/10
Short 5 – 8/10

William Gordon


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