If you’re ready to get into the Halloween spirit early this year, “V/H/S” is the way to do it.
By David Feltman
“I like you.”
If you just so happen to take the video-on-demand route for this film over the theater experience, might I suggest saving the extra $3 or $4 and opt for standard definition over HD. Because, as the title suggests, this is a found footage film that takes its title seriously and everyone should know there’s no such thing as a high-def VHS cassette.
Don’t take that as a slight against the film. While it goes out of its way to capture the static and poor tracking quality of VHS tapes, the video quality does not translate to the quality of the film. In fact, “V/H/S” is the best horror film I’ve seen all year. A horror anthology boasting directing talents like Ti West and David Bruckner, “V/H/S” ties its stories together with a group of self-filming hoodlums tasked to break into an old man’s home and steal a VHS tape. Upon their arrival, however, they find the old man dead and a mound of unlabeled tapes. They rifle through the tapes trying to figure out which is the one they need, only to find each tape is more disturbing than the last.
There’s an amazing economy at work, as the filmmakers manage to fit six vignettes into a 2-hour span. And the sheer amount of scares and suspense packed in those two hours makes for a stress test that’ll leave you feeling dazed walking out of the theater. This movie will definitely give you your money’s worth.
The vignettes waste little time in the wind up, making them all the more brutal to watch. The pacing of the shorts becomes more relentless as “V/H/S” progresses, leaving less and less breathing room between films. Even more interesting is a strong feminist thread that pervades in nearly all of the stories. The women in “V/H/S” often portray a false veneer of victimhood, yet are almost always the predator. Whether intended or not, the result plays with the audience’s expectations of traditional horror tropes and gender roles. It also makes for some fantastic frights.
It’s difficult to make one consistently scary movie, much less five or six scary movies. For that reason, most horror anthologies fall victim to a hit-or-miss unevenness that makes the overall product mediocre. But Bloody Disgusting and The Collective have pulled off a rare feat with this impressive group of films that easily stands side-by-side with the likes of “Trick ‘r Treat” and “Black Sabbath.” If you’re ready to get into the Halloween spirit early this year, “V/H/S” is the way to do it.