V/H/S is precisely the kind of movie I should not like. That statement may carry some weight (however slight it may be) with people familiar with my movie tastes. But for those unaware, I am completely unfazed by the majority of contemporary horror films. Throw the whole found footage narrative (or rather, debacle) into the mix, and I’ve all but rolled my eyes before frame one. V/H/S is the exception. The very scary, very smart, very rare exception.
The film opens with a group of petty hooligans who, after filming themselves doing what I considered to be the most horrific thing in the movie, soon decide to break into an old man’s house and steal some tapes. A friend has told them that the tapes will sell for cash money online, so into the house they go. Once inside, they split up and one kid eventually plops down in front of a TV and begins playing tapes. That’s where the films of V/H/S come from.
Now, the easiest way to go about this review would be to give brief plot descriptions of the individual segments. But I think that’s unfair to the films themselves. Instead, it’s important to note that plotlines as tired as a honeymooning couple, drunk guys trying to pick up chicks, a group of friends in the woods, and bros at a Halloween party, are all given a thorough upgrade here.
But, really, this is tricky. It’s difficult enough to build and maintain a sense of dread throughout one feature length horror film, so the risk in doing that for five short films could merit uneven results. At best. The ups and downs of V/H/S could tire the viewer to no end. But, simply put, there are no ups and downs in this film. Despite the fact that we’re presented with a handful of completely separate stories, fear is built, held, and kept throughout. I’m not quite sure I’ve ever experienced that from a movie before. A-
(Note: You can watch V/H/S now via iTunes, Amazon, and OnDemand, or Friday in select cities. Either way, watch it with the lights off and sound up. Hopefully you’ll enjoy its deception as much as I did.)