Hey gang, Valkor here. I’m really surprised at how the “found footage” genre ever became so popular, because I can’t really think of one film that was actually any good. I've been told that the “Paranormal Activity” films are quite scary, but the first film put me to sleep and I have yet to try the others. I’ve reviewed films such as Re-cut and Grave Encounters and I wasn't impressed. So I was skeptical when the film "V/H/S" crossed my desk. I’ll admit I was sold in the beginning, but as the film progressed… it started to take a bit of a nosedive. Major spoilers, go in at your own risk!
V/H/S takes the “found footage” genre and adds an anthology spin to it. The main story starts with a bunch of criminals, know for videotaping their exploits, breaking into the house of an old man, who appears to be dead. They’re mission is to find a particular videotape to give to some unknown buyer, for a sum of money. While three of them men split into different areas of the home to search for that one tape, one guy is left behind with the old man. He then begins watching some of the videotape, featuring “found footage” that contains supernatural and unexplainable acts.
Amateur Night (Valkor Favorite) – Three dudes – Shane, Patrick, and Clint plan to get into some serious sexual shenanigans, when Clint dons a pair of glasses containing a hidden camera. They head off to a bar where they meet two women – Lisa and Lily; it would appear that Lily is kinda crushin on Clint as she whispers to him repeatedly “I like you”. The group head back to the hotel; Lisa soon passes out, leaving Lily up for grabs - literally. And that’s when the shit really hits the fan as this quiet, demure, yet sexy female goes animal ballistic taking a bite out of everyone.
Second Honeymoon – Couple Sam and Stephanie are off on their second honeymoon out in the wild west. While having a frisky moment in their hotel room, there is a sudden knock on the door. Later it’s explained that it was a strange woman asking them for a ride in the morning. Why? No one knows. But that same evening, someone has broken into their room, waves a knife around their sleeping bodies, steals some of Sam’s money and then splashes his toothbrush in the toilet. On the last day of their journey, the mysterious figure again enters their room only this time killing Sam in the process. We then see the killer in the bathroom with Stephanie making out, and her asking “did you erase the footage?”
Tuesday the 17th – Four friends – Wendy, Samantha, Spider, and Joey are off to visit the lakehouse where Wendy is prone to visiting. Throughout the filming, weird images sporadically appear and Wendy drops a bomb that everyone is going to die. It would appear she was joking about the dying bit, but she later reveals a series of murders that happened in this area, by an unseen assailant. The killer appears and starts taking out the group leaving Wendy as the lone survivor. But in actuality, she set the whole thing up using her friends as bait and setting up a series of traps for the killer, whose face cannot be filmed.
The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She was Younger – Emily and her boyfriend Jason are in the midst of a long distance relationship, communicating through video chat. In one session she reveals a strange bump in her arm and weird noises happening in her apartment. The next night, with Jason online, they again hear the noise and follow it to reveal a ghostly child who runs and hides in her closet. This repeats over the course of a few nights and it’s revealed that a) Emily is being used to grow fetuses within her and b) Jason was in on it the whole time along with the ghostly figures.
10/31/98 – It’s Halloween and four friends – Chad, Matt, Tyler, and Paul are headed to a Halloween party. When they arrive at what they believe to be the party house, they find that the place is deserted. Upon closer inspection, the house isn’t completely empty as there is going ons in the attic – a ritual of sorts, with chanting and a woman tied up. The group believes it to be a Halloween prank, but its revealed there’s something more to this and they make a mad dash for the exit. But then they decide to go back and save the woman that's tied up. When they unbound her, several members of the ritual congregation are suddenly spirited away by “something” and as they race for the exit strange hands start to appear from the walls and floors trying to get at them. The foursome makes it to the car and as they drive away, the mysterious woman whom they rescued disappears, re-appearing outside the car as a strange creature. The car begins moving on its own, ending up on train tracks, with a train headed straight there way.
So what of the four guys who broke into the old man’s house looking for videotape? One by one they're killed by a mysterious figure, which would appear to be the old man as there were several instances between videos where he was no longer in chair dead.
V/H/S surprised me at the jump; the first story, Amateur Night, was the perfect set up for some serious scares. The actor whom was chosen to play Lily, Hannah Fierman, oh she is so, so perfect, beautiful, and innocent with those big eyes, and meek appearance. You know something is going on behind her façade. And when it’s revealed that she’s some sort of vampire freak – shit!! I haven’t been this scared by a film in a long time! The only other short that comes close to being equally as good as “Amateur Night” is “Tuesday the 17th”, which is more of a slasher than straight up horror. The fact that the camera jumps and goes all kinds of crazy whenever the killer is near, is just completely fucked up and yet much fun. Could I watch an entire film based around this short? If done right, yes I could! So other than that we have…
The remaining stories, including the main story, are just plain boring. Is it a little creepy? Yes! Will it hold your attention? Yes! But in the end they’re not very entertaining. For me, Amateur Night was the film’s strongest short that literally scared the crap out of me, and anything after that pretty much fell flat save for “Tuesday the 17th”. But I really wanted to love this film overall, but in the end I was left wanting more.
Lily ripping off some dude’s junk! OUCHIE!!!
V/H/S hits on demand services on August 30th and then it’ll get a limited theatrical release October 5th, which is perfect timing for the Halloween crowd looking for some frights. Again, I’m not the biggest fan of “found footage” video, but V/H/S is actually one of the best I’ve seen. Is it worth checking out? Given what I said in “The Bad” section, yes I think it is, and you guys out there might feel differently about some of the shorts than I did. In the end, V/H/S gets 3 stars out of TOV 5. Finally a found footage video I can sink my teeth into.