A hit at Sundance, though some audience members walked out due to being too grossed out or scared, "V/H/S" now opens theatrically for all the country to experience for themselves (although it has been playing OnDemand since August 31st.) Another entry into the "found footage" genre, this film is actually five short found-footage films (made by different directors) strung together by a bookend (kind of) about four hoodlums that break into a house in order to steal a videotape that they’ve been instructed to retrieve. Once inside the house they find a dead man sitting in front of five old TV’s that are all turned to white noise. One by one each guy finds a videotape that they watch and a particular story is shown.
Each videotape is of an alleged horrific incident and varies in style and genre. In the first, three college students go for a night on the town with the nerdiest one of the group recording the events of the evening on glasses that have a hidden camera. The intention is to record some good old fashioned sex, but what they get is far more horrifying then they expected. In the second videotape, a young couple on a road trip discovers they are being followed. In the third, four young adults travel into the woods to an old camp that gives one of the girls disturbing memories. Her reason for going pretty much spells doom for the group.
In the fourth video a long-distance couple Skype night after night when the girl complains of having a possible ghost in her apartment. In the last video, a group of guys go to a house for a Halloween party only to find a supernatural horror they didn’t expect.
As you can see, most of these involve either a group of obnoxious young adults (is there nothing else?) or a seemingly innocent couple dealing with some sort of personal terror. The problem here is that four of the five stories aren’t particularly scary. In fact, most end up feeling like something any kid with a camcorder could cook up during a few hours of downtime. The final story involving the Halloween party is the creepiest and most effective; it would have done well if it were expanded into a full feature. The others were tepid and unsatisfying. (Not to mention the trailer that reveals many of the surprises.)
Worse still, the wraparound story is not only filled with a bunch of douche-bags who had not only sexually harassed a girl in a parking garage, but also like to smash things. Mind you, they aren’t 15 year old kids. These are guys in their mid-to-late-twenties. (So already I hate them and could care less if a monster ate their faces or not.) Regardless, there is only one surprise in that story that any moron could see coming, and in the end, the story goes absolutely nowhere and we never know who instructed them to find a particular videotape and what they were going to do with it. Also, why are all these creepy tapes in one house and who found them in the first place? Nothing is answered here.
Each segment was directed by a different director of the horror genre, with Ti West ("House of the Devil") the only familiar name. And his segment was by far the lamest.
Overall, it’s a frustrating 112 minutes. Not only because the stories are all lackluster Twilight Zone-ish entries that rely on gore to "scare" us, but also because after almost two hours, the low quality of the "videotape" is headache-inducing.
Gary :: Calvin Reeder
Brad :: Lane Hughes
Rock :: Adam Wingard
Lily :: Hannah Fierman
Shane :: Mike Donlan
Patrick :: Joe Sykes
Sam :: Joe Swanberg
Stephanie :: Sophia Takal
The Stalker :: Kate Sheil
Spider :: Jason Yachanin
Clint :: Drew Sawyer
Lisa :: Jas Sams
Joey Brenner :: Drew Moerlein
Screenwriter, David Bruckner; Screenwriter, Glenn McQuaid; Director, Joe Swanberg; Screenwriter, Ti West; Director, Adam Wingard; Screenwriter, Simon Barrett; Screenwriter, Tyler Gillett; Screenwriter, Justin Martinez; Screenwriter, Nicholas Tecosky; Screenwriter, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin; Screenwriter, Chad Villella; Producer, Gary Binkow; Producer, Roxanne Benjamin; Producer, Bradley Miska; Executive Producer, Zak Zeman; Cinematographer, Andrew Palermo; Cinematographer, Michael Wilson; Cinematographer, Victoria Warren; Film Editor, Joe Gressis; Art Director, Raymond Carr; Costume Designer, Liz Vastola.