93 min., dir. by Adam Wingard, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, David Bruckner, Joe Swanberg, and Ti West with Joe Swanberg, Adam Wingard, and Sophia Takal
There’s nothing like a good ol’ horror anthology. Building off the nonstop production of found footage shockers flooding the market since The Blair Witch Project, V/H/S groups together the hottest names in the scare and tear genre to bring this young style of fright flicks to an old standard of viewing. Built out of some highly tired premises, these vignettes start off promising, but fall flat on their faces. With only one short that works on every level, V/H/S is more about the gory deaths of drunken douchebags than anything else.
Each short tale in V/H/S is tied to the story of a group of petty miscreants who go around breaking shit and harassing women, filming their exploits the entire time. When one member of the group hears they can get $50 for a tape they just made (in which they grab a girl and pull her shirt up), he has the perfect plan to get them all some easy money. Apparently, a very special VHS tape exists that would keep the money rolling in – all they have to do it break into an old man’s house, and steal it. Of course, when they get to the house, some strange things are found and one by one they all watch parts of the tape. Each viewing is a different tale.
With each story needing to find a way to have their POV subject filming throughout the horror, most of the stories rely on following inebriated morons who are so annoying that you hope they die. All of them (once again, barring the last entry) also fall back on gore instead of fright. I want something to creep me out – elongated deaths that are overly bloody may be disturbing, but not scary. One entry starts off promising with a traditional ghost story, but turns into a mushy pile of ridiculous nonsense that is convoluted and difficult to understand.
It was the closing piece entitled “10/31/89” that got things right. Directed by a collective of directors going by the name Radio Silence, “10/31/89” is slightly clichéd like the rest of the stories, but it was done well. It’s not even a real seat-jumper — it just puts the right pieces in place, gives them an unsettling atmosphere, and knocks it out of the park with style.
From the gore to the shaky, dirty nature of the VHS-style delivery, the film did more to give me a headache and upset me than it did to scare me. There were small glimmers of promise through most sections, but they all seem petty and small compared the grande finale. Coming out of V/H/S, the only thing on my mind was, I can’t wait to see what the Radio Silence people have in store for the future.