Directors: Radio Silence, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Ti West, Adam Wingard
Cast: Calvin Reeder, Lane Hughes, Adam Win
Running time: 116 minutes
Synopsis: When a gang of degenerates break into a house to steal a VHS tape, they find stacks more, each of which contains footage of something horrific…
Let’s be honest – the found-footage movie has had its day. In fact, of the countless examples to have surfaced since THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT made it fashionable about 100 years ago, only a few have made the format worthy of our attention. Even the better ones – CLOVERFIELD or CHRONICLE, for instance – have suffered the problems of simple logic that hound almost every found-footage production to date. Whilst the format undoubtedly adds a little realism, the same old question lingers: ‘In the face of mortal danger, why the in name of effing Christ are you still filming? And who the hell is editing this together?’
But V/H/S promised to bring something new to the table. Presenting itself as a found footage anthology – tied together by a group of burglars that discover a house filled with mysterious tapes – it seemed the collaborative project would put a new twist on found-footage. In reality however, V/H/S fails to live up to the promise – whilst it does find inventive ways around the format’s old problems (bringing into the equation Skype and hidden micro-cameras), it creates a whole new set of issues, and by the halfway mark it soon becomes clear there’s little point to any of it.
The success of any anthology clearly relies on the strength of its individual stories, and whilst the opening segment is lots of the fun, they get rapidly worse as the film rolls on, trying their best to touch on every horror subgenre possible but mastering none. It does end relatively well, with a nice twist on the haunted house story, but by that point it’s a case of too little, too late.
What sets V/H/S apart from other anthologies is that it’s unifying story arc gives the impression of some clever twist that will somehow tie everything together. But don’t hold your breath – there’s little to distinguish the overall film from almost every other cheap found footage movie. Despite a few scares, it’s pretty much cheap and pointless filmmaking – further proof this format needs to be lost until someone figures out how to do something genuinely new with it.
V/H/S is out now.