August 8, 2012

Review: V/H/S (2012)

V/H/S has been on pretty much every Horror critic/reporter/fan/geek's radar for the better part of a year now. It caused a crazy uproar at Sundance, and has garnered plenty of rave reviews from the horror sites that got to see an early look at the movie.

*Be sure to take the word of Bloody Disgusting with a grain of salt when it comes to this movie; one of the site-runners over there is a Producer on V/H/S, so the reviews will most likely be biased. That's no knock on BD -whom we do tend to knock for pimping so many shitty films that end up sucking- because we'd be pimping our wares to the nth degree too if we produced a movie too. Trust me, we'd be downright whores about it.

V/H/S is a Found Footage/Anthology flick, which will give many casual fans immediate pause due to the fact that so many lower budget FF flicks tend to suck, and anthologies usually don't turn out that hot either, at least lately. With V/H/S though, the FF aspect of things was at least handled in a new and creative ways, and as an Anthology it worked pretty well, so don't dismiss it out of hand too quickly.

There are five stories and a wraparound in V/H/S, each one bringing something different to the table.

King of the Douche-bag Kingdom.
The wraparound story is called Tape 57. It involves a gang of the douchiest douchebags I've seen on film in a long time, who are hired to break into a creepy old house and retrieve a particular video tape. "You'll know when you see it" is all they have to go on, and so they search the house for tapes, and inevitably end up watching some of them. Also, there's a dead guy in a chair who was apparently watching these tapes too... I don't know who in their right mind would sit in a dark room in a creepy house, with their back to a corpse, and watch creepy snuff tapes, but that's just me. This wraparound segment pops up throughout the movie, and actually ends before the last segment begins.

Verdict- This segment was alright, but the dick-hole characters and their nonsensical behavior didn't make us love it any more. It was creepy enough, but the payoff wasn't as great as we expected. It felt a bit too quick, especially since it's the centerpiece of the movie.

This is why I'm terrified of bar whores.
Amateur Night is the first actual videotape they watch, and it's just as douche-bag cluttered. Three annoying frat-bro ass-hats are out clubbing, with one of them wearing a special pair of glasses equipped with a camera to record the nights bro-fest. They're on the hunt for a gang-bang you see, and it really takes very little effort to find some trashy club hookers (they really are everywhere) to head back to the motel with them and party, Broseph. Things take a turn for the nasty when one of the girl turns out to be a little too freaky for them to handle.

Verdict- As annoying as the characters were in this segment, and they were VERY annoying, this one was fun as hell. Sure, no one acted with any sort of sense whatsoever, and it seemed as if their actions were sometimes directed by the need to film what was happening for the sake of the movie, but the payoff was pretty good. By good, I mean bloody and nasty. Also, boobies and bush were present here.

This is why I will not sleep in motels.
Second Honeymoon was a short segment dealing with a couple on a Wild West trip of sorts for their... second honeymoon. See how the title fits? Anywho, they seem to have a stalker in tow, who is breaking into their motel room at night and doing creepy things while filming them. Things do not end up going well on this vacation. We really shouldn't say much else here.

Verdict- Short and sweet, we really liked this one. It was simple and straightforward, but something about it just grabbed us. Most people who have seen V/H/S consider this the one of weaker segments, but we just don't see it that way. Ti West gave us a  pretty creepy story here, and the best ending to one of his projects to date.

This is why I don't go into the forest and film things.
Tuesday the 17th is a Backwoods Horror, supernatural serial killer type of story, involving a group of youngsters heading into the deep woods for no apparent reason. Their video camera starts to see odd images of dead bodies and other grisly shit, and it's eventually revealed that there's was a serial killer who once used the place as his hunting/dumping grounds, and he's still very much alive and well. Kinda.

Verdict- Style-wise, we liked this one the best. The clever way in which we see the killer was pretty disturbing and different, and it's definitely packed with plenty of blood and gore. We also liked how it turned into a mean little revenge story, and we admire the lengths to which our Final Girl/Guy went to to achieve it. 

This is why I stopped camming.
The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger is a cautionary tale of how using Skype to video chat is evil and never leads to anything good. Emily's apartment appears to be haunted, and she sets out to prove this to her boyfriend each night while they video chat.

The Verdict- Despite it ending... oddly, this one had some genuine moments of terror within its odd confines. We thought the boyfriend was useless as far as giving her good advice like "run" or "leave your apartment now and don't return," but we came to peace with that as the segment wore on. Also, there were some nice boobies in this one.

This is why I do not go to parties in basements.
The final story in the anthology is 10/31/98, and it takes place on Halloween, as evidenced by the title. Four friends set out for a Halloween party, but they end up at the wrong house, and shit gets crazy. Again, we don't want to spoil too much, but suffice it to say that they start to explore "the wrong house" and quickly realize that they aren't at a party with really cool Haunted House effects.

The Verdict- Again, aside from the lackluster conclusion, this one was fun as hell, and packed full of a ton of craziness. The group of male characters weren't annoying in this one either, which was a nice change of pace from the Dude-Bro's we were forced to endure in the earlier stories. This was a pretty decent closer.

Blair Witch homage?
V/H/S was at times as flawed as it was entertaining, though due to the ingenuity of its parts, the whole leans closer to good than it does bad. Most of the stories started out strong, but ended on a weaker note, and the acting was borderline bad in places. It was packed with all sorts of gore and violence, had it's share of creepy and tense moments, and didn't shy away from nudity and other Hard-R elements.

Ti West, Adam Wingard, Joe Swanberg, Glenn McQuade, David Bruckner and the collective known as Radio Silence take up directorial duties here,  each bringing their own style and take to their stories. We're big fans of West, Wingard, Swanberg and McQuade around here, and you should really check out their movies such as I Sell the Dead, You're Next, The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers and A Horrible way to Die; all great flicks from great horror minds. *Radio Silence is new to the directing game and we weren't big fans of Bruckner's The Signal... so shoot us.

That's a really long knife.
Was this the genre-defining classic that we'd hoped it would be? No. It was however, an effective and inventive spin on the Found Footage sub-genre, that was well worth the near two hours we spent watching it. The directing talent involved in this truly shone through, and for all of its flaws, V/H/S was one of the most enjoyable trips we've taken down the horror path this year. Definitely check it out when it hits VOD in late August, or when it gets its limited theatrical run in October.

This one earns itself a fairly solid grade, of  B although it could have been tighter on the acting and plot structure front. 

V/H/S i available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD.

Here's a small sampling of the hotness on display in this movie, of which there was plenty... plenty of boobs and sexy parts to be seen, that is.


  1. Awesome review as always.

    I too thought the shorts were entertaining at best, but not as awesome as I thought they would be. My fave one was actually the 'web cam' one - but like the rest of them I wasn't satisfied with the ending.

    The vampire one was pretty sweet too - creepy but subtle vampire effects.

    And as for the douche bags that strung the whole thing together - they were annoying as hell. esp at the start. I actually wanted em to get what was coming to them - but then maybe that's what the movie was going for.

  2. Agree wholeheartedly Clarence,good movie, but not truly great.

  3. I loved this one actually. First time in a while a film has given me that "suffocating dread" feeling I quite like...

    A definite A for me.

  4. I can understand why you found good bits in it, but what about all that rest?

    The first 15 minutes is pure torture to watch, then some interesting ideas are presented, but besides the gore and people that have no control to what happens to them, all we have is a bunch of really annoying people dying for no good reason. The stories get smaller and smaller until almost nothing is left.

    The web cam action (which I am amazed you could even watch, given your previous comments on hand held cameras) was needlessly broken by footage that had no way to get there.

    And the ending... yeah.... Of all the movies I could have watched, picking this was not satisfactory.

  5. This is just one of those movies that will polarize audiences.

    Siderite, you are always a tough critic, but what you say here isn't off base at all. For me, the characters and the way most of the segments ended was way worse than the shaky cam thing, although that was bad.

    The first 15 minutes was was really tough, and it pissed me off how shaky everything was and that I had to endure such moronic characters during all that shake... after that though, it evened out a bit and was far more enjoyable. The stories did seem to get "smaller" as the movie went on though.

    Omega, "suffocating dread" is a good way to put it. V/H/S has its faults that can't be denied, but it was definitely effective on the dread level.

  6. I wanted to see this ever since i heard about it.And I'm not sure of it now I have.I know this is dumb but a little back story somewhere would've been helpful and a better ending.The segments were good,even though it did at times feel like walking into a film halfway through.

    Overall the film does deserve the rating you gave,it just left me wanting a little bit more

  7. Yeah Zocial, it was good, but I thought it would be way better.

  8. saw the first two stories,the first was funny the second boring.

  9. You guys are usually very well and finely written, but to be honest, this movie was awful. I never felt any sort of fear, and it was, in the end, I suppose, a waste of money. No plot arch. It was obvious what was going to happen before it did... I like you guys, and I expect more from you than a write up B for a BBBBad movie, in any sense.

  10. Anon, lots of people really did not like this movie, and it's not one of the year's best for us, but it worked on some levels for us.

    If we went back and watched it again, it might end up being a C for us, but at the time, despite its obvious flaws and shortcomings, we just felt like it was in the B range.

    Rating/grading a movie is a hard thing to do sometimes. So many factors go into that process, and the grey areas of "loved it" and "hated it" can blur together.

    V/H/S won't make our year's best list, but we did think it a bit above average.

  11. A little late chiming in, but I'm one of those people who thought this was flat out awful. BD has a lot of pull in the horror community. I won't get into their sketchy practices in great detail but they have a long history of - shall we say - leading people astray. Apparently, the site went bats*** over this for months w/o revealing its connection to the film. Dishonest as that is, it wouldn't matter all that much had this actually lived up to the hype. And in my humble opinion, it does not. This is every bit as bad as hundreds of dtv movies released every single year that people trash without giving it a second thought. The only difference is that VHS had the benefit of a 'hype machine' while others don't have that luxury.

    The stories were all unoriginal, under-developed, unscary and poorly written. They were executed so poorly they couldn't even deliver a few cheap jump scares. Most of the acting was terrible (I did like the vampire / succubus girl in the first segment but that's it), the characters were obnoxious, the dialogue scenes were extremely clumsy with people obviously ad-libbing through parts, talking over each other and needlessly throwing out the f bomb every other word to the point of annoyance. So yeah, I wasn't a fan of this at all. I was actually pretty shocked at how bad it was. I give it a "D" and feel that's being generous.

    On the plus side, great blog!

  12. I agree with everything you said in your first paragraph, Pit. The movie was way hyped, sometimes in shady ways, and didn't live up to much of the hype.

    I personally don't find V/H/S to be as bad as you do, but I can't argue against your reasons for not liking it.

    I liked some of it, but I don't thin I'll ever need to watch it again, you know?