Spoiler Alert: V/H/S Review

John Seiler/Sun Star Columnist
October 16, 2012

Directed- Various
Starring- Various
Release Date- Out Now

As a kid, I loved anthology horror stories. Whether it’s a TV show like Tales from the Crypt, movies like Creepshow or books by Alvin Schwartz I think horror lends itself  to a short story format.

I heard about V/H/S when it debuted earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival to news stories of people fainting at the event. Naturally, I had to see what this was enough to put it on my top five list of the fall.

From five different directors, V/H/S is an anthology film that features six different tales that are all told from a found footage esthetic. The story that ties them all together is Tape 56. Tape 56 is about a group that is tasked with breaking in to a house and finding the mysterious tape. As they search through the house, they pop in different tapes which brings us to the next story.

The stories range from impressive narratives to impressive visuals. By far my favorite story was “The Second Honeymoon.” The story is about a married couple on a cross-country road trip and is visited at night by an intruder. Director Ti West uses the grittiness of a VHS quality film  to his advantage creating  a tense experience.

The story “Tuesday the 17th” was a play off of classic slashers, but the hook was that you could only see the killer through the camera. This leads to some cool static effects of the killer stalking in the background.

The other story  that stuck out to me was the last short, “10/31/98.” This story is about a group of friends that go to a party but demonic things start to occur. I was impressed with the changing of the house as the story goes forward with doors closing and arms coming out of the walls. The other stories, “Amateur Night” and “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger” were okay, but nothing not worth watching for either not great characters or confusing story beats.

Over the years films like “Paranormal Activity” have disenfranchised people with what a “Found Footage” film could be, but “V/H/S” uses it in a different way. While “Paranormal Activity” is a pretty clean looking film, “V/H/S” is a dark mess, in a good way.  The filmmakers take advantage of the low-res quality of a VHS tape and make one of the best looking horror films out there.

From the low rent look to a great direction on some of the shorts, “V/H/S” is one of the best horror films this year.

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