V/H/S is a “found footage horror anthology”, which basically means it’s a full-length movie comprised of several short horror films. It’s a film that is a part of the “Mumblegore” movement, which if you haven’t heard of it, is a group a young writers, actors, directors, and producers who are making micro-budget horror films that are awesome. The writers and directors include: Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, and a group of directors known as Radio Silence.
There are 6 different parts to this film: 1. “Tape 56” directed by Adam Wingard; 2. “Amatuer Night” directed by David Bruckner; 3. “Second Honeymoon” directed by Ti West; 4. “Tuesday the 17th” directed by Glenn McQuaid; 5. “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger” directed by Joe Swanberg; and 6. “10/31/98” directed by Radio Silence.
The first film, “Tape 56” acts as the framework for the entire movie. It opens up with a group of young kids who are filming themselves commit crimes and having a jolly old time doing it. They sell their little crime films online for some cash, and get an offer to break into a house to steal a VHS tape. When they begin burglarizing the house they find the owner dead inside in front of the TV. All but one of the kids goes to search the house, while the remaining kid stays behind to watch whatever was left in the VCR. This is where the other tapes begin, and once each tape ends we are brought back to this main overarching narrative.
We cut over to “Amatuer Night”, my personal favorite film in this anthology. It’s about a group of three buddies who are planning on going out to a club to pick up girls with the ultimate goal of bringing them back to their motel room to have sex with them. One of the friends has set up a hidden camera within his glasses, so we can see everything from his perspective. It’s an absolutely awesome way to experience the evening as things start to unfold. Ultimately they go out, pick up a couple of girls, and bring them back to the hotel room. Things start to get weird and ultimately death ensues! It’s totally not at all what I was expecting would happen, but it was a lot of fun.
I like you…
In fact, the next film had an unexpected twist as well! “Second Honeymoon” was about a couple on a road trip for, go figure, their second honeymoon! It was heavy on the suspense and build-up to an ultimately bloody end and surprise twist! While staying in a motel room the couple’s camera gets used during the night without them knowing. Tension is built when the unknown person pulls out a knife and begins caressing the wife’s leg. In the end, we find out that *Spoiler alert*: The wife was in on it!
“Tuesday the 17th” is the short film that comes next, and initially appears to be your run-of-the-mill camping trip set-up. The main female friend leads them out into the woods to a lake where they proceed to have a good time by taking off their clothes and smoking some weed. A spooky tale is told and then people start dying at the hand of a strange figure that’s blurred out by a glitch in the VHS tape. Basically everyone dies and the figure ends up killing the main girl and, you know, TAKING OVER HER BODY! The fact that we, as the audience, have no idea what is taking these people out makes the scene extra intense.
We then jump into “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger”. The setup: A long distance couple is video chatting about how she thinks her apartment is haunted. As it turns out, it’s not actually haunted, and her boyfriend isn’t actually a long distance away. Cool twist! ALIENS! That’s right, just as we all totally suspected (sarcasm)! So, the aliens are using this girl as a way to birth little alien/human hybrids somehow, and then wiping her memory. The segment ends showing us that this dude is doing the same things with another girls and aliens as well. A pretty dark ending with no real resolution that leaves you feeling like that kind of thing just continues on! Love it!
“10/31/98”. The date of this recording; aka Halloween 1998. This is the last film we see in the movie. A group of buddies get all dressed up to go out to a party with, of course, their hidden camera. The house the arrive at for the party turns out to be haunted and a girl they “save” from the house ends up being some sort of ghost. As they are making their get-away with her in the car she stops the car right in the middle of some train tracks and all the dudes die in the car. The end. Keeping with the vibe of this whole movie where the bad stuff happens and never really gets resolved, this film fits right in! It was a suspenseful little ride and I really enjoyed them all going into a freaking haunted house and then trying to make the best of it. Classic.
I wanted to give this film a legit review because it’s one of my favorites. I really like the found footage format, and the anthology style breaks it up to be more enjoyable/ easily digestible. Compared to something like “The Last Exorcism” which is all one long found footage film in one style, this anthology gives you several shorter films with multiple styles. All of the directing in this film was great, and each of the stories were absolutely memorable. I’ll admit it I couldn’t stop saying “I like you” to my wife after watching “Amateur Night”. (Once you watch it you’ll know what I’m talking about!)
Overall, I have to give this film a 5/5 rating:
Closing comments: V/H/S is fantastic. The fact that it’s an anthology keeps things varied and interesting, and the found footage aspect really appeals to that “this could be real” feeling. If you haven’t seen the film yet, what are you waiting for?! It’s available to stream on Netflix now so there’s really no reason not to check it out. This is a movie I’ll be recommending for years to come and it’s something I wouldn’t mind having in my personal collection. (Though, I’ll admit it, as a poor college student I streamed it on Netflix and still haven’t purchased my own copy. But it’d be a great birthday or graduation gift!) There are definitely people this film won’t appeal to, and those are people who aren’t too fond of found footage horror. If you happen to be one of those people and you’re set in your ways you might want to give this one a pass, because it’s heavy on shaky found footage. For everyone else, check it out and let me know what you think in the comments below!