December 10, 2012

Filthy Review - 'V/H/S'

V/H/S (2012)

Review by Jude Felton

Of all the horror websites out there, it definitely seems that Bloody Disgusting is putting their money where their mouth is, and is standing proud in its support of new and exciting horror movie. With the Bloody Disgusting Selects label they have released a wide range of movies in the US, ranging from excellent through to average at best. All have been well-worth checking out though. The Woman, Rammbock, YellowBrickRoad, Atrocious and Chop, among others, have all gotten their US releases through this new and exciting imprint.

Now, with the concept from Bloody Disgusting head honcho, Brad Miska (who also serves as one of the Producers), BD Selects by way of Magnet Releasing have unleashed possibly one of the most hyped new horror films of recent years; V/H/S. Hell, the cover quote is from Rolling Stone for god’s sake! If nothing else, this is a film that has been pushed into the public eye or at the very least the mainstream press. One problem with this is that the burden of expectation has now been raised far above what the film could ever hope to deliver. But, damn, it does try and for good portions of its running time it does work.

V/H/S is an anthology, which does appear to be a very popular format at the time of writing this, with each of the 6 chapters (including the wraparound section) all being directed by some of the most exciting new directors out there. Ti West, Adam Winguard, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg and the wonderfully named Radio Silence, have all delivered a short(ish) segment to this quite cool concept.

The wraparound story follows a group of thoroughly obnoxious guys who are paid to break into a house and steal a mysterious video cassette. Believe me; you are just begging for these assholes to die, I shit you not. Anyway, whilst in the house they discover not only a dead guy, but a huge stack of video tapes. Rather than just focusing on trying to find the one that they have been paid to find, they instead sit down and watch some of the over tapes.

The film then follows each story that is being watched by the kids, all of which continue the handheld home video style approach. The stories include tales about a mysterious young woman who isn’t quite what she seems, a couple who’s road trip takes a surprisingly violent turn, a trip to the woods (of which nothing ever good comes of), a Skype chat from Hell and a Halloween night out. Some of the films are stronger than others, with one dragging slightly before delivering its brutal payoff, but on the whole there is a little of everything here. Even if every minute of V/H/S doesn’t totally hit the mark, the film does show a definite wealth of ideas.

The irony of watching a film entitled V/H/S, of which is about video cassettes, on Blu-ray is not lost on me at all, but it is still a very cool movie. The handheld style of shooting (brace yourself for some serious motion sickness) and implementation of video style footage really does work to the movie’s benefit. It allows the filmmakers to include some especially effective, and at times chilling, effects into their segments, through the use of faux tracking issues on the tapes. 

This is also a surprisingly gory little number as well, with plenty of the red stuff on display.
With a huge budget V/H/S would not have worked at all, it is the homemade quality and low budget that gives it its raw appeal and execution. Sure, it doesn’t always work, but when it does it is a blast to watch. If you don’t like found footage style movies you sure aren’t going to like this, but there are fans of this style out there, myself included. You only need to check out sites like YouTube, where stupid clips get millions of views, to know that we are all voyeurs; we all want to see what everyone else is doing, and that is pretty much what the found footage sub-genre is; it taps into our desire to watch. You can deny this to yourself, but it is all too evidently true.

V/H/S is flawed and, at almost two hours, probably too long, but for me the positives outweighed the negatives. I enjoyed it, even though I didn’t love it, and I am sure that there are others out there that will dig it too.

V/H/S is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Magnet Releasing.

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