Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Film review: V/H/S

I have nothing against found footage style films as long as they're done well enough. As a lover of both horror and fantasy I am not only willing and able, but eager to escape into many unrealistic scenarios. I don't need a 100% airtight line of logic to justify it, I'm fine with accepting that yes, in the world you present to me that every blade of grass in the world is really a conscientious being that's fed up with being trampled on, beginning an epic revolt, Plant Vs. Man, in which 90% of the population is annihilated via tripping. I am on board, let's do this. When I read the first trade volume of Marvel Zombies, my biggest problem was that I didn't buy Thor being zombified. When I mumbled "Oh come on, there's no way that could happen!" to myself, I had to stop reading and have a reality check. Then I continued, because it's fucking Marvel Zombies and I'm going to read the hell out of that.

I say all this in my review of V/H/S to demonstrate that I am not hard to get on board with whatever kooky plot you may have.

 I'm sure not everyone would agree with me, but I think the whole found footage concept has been done really well in horror, from THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT to [REC] to CLOVERFIELD to PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. I bought into the idea that people were filming whatever crazy mess was happening, I can push past that point of "Just drop the camera and BOOK IT, dude!" because I -want- to so badly.

And I wanted to SO BADLY with V/H/S. I thought it sounded great, and I dig a good anthology. I was happy to see something included from Ti West, I've really enjoyed his films so far. This collage of found footage has its moments, but didn't quite live up to my expectations.

The first problem I had was how much I hated the four criminals in the wrap-around plot. I was ready for them to die in the first five minutes. And if I thought that was bad, I was ready to kill the guys in the first segment within five seconds. I was ready for a nuclear bomb to wipe out this world I had been dropped into. I decided it should probably be two bombs just to make sure there are no survivors after I began suffering from an insane amount of motion sickness by the end of the first segment. I don't get sick like that from most found footage, but something about the wrap-around and that first short film starting mashing my nausea buttons like they were playing Street Fighter or something.

So the rest of my experience during the first half or so of V/H/S was a bit tainted by the nausea. I was able to finish the last two segments with no ill effect.

The rest of the four stories were fine enough, but suffered from a bit of poor acting here or there, or some plot holes I was a little fishy on, or even just a slow pacing that did little to thrill. I didn't completely buy into the continued filming in a couple of stories, never mind that these were all supposed to be filmed on VHS tapes. And what was with all the boobs? I mean, yes, horror fan. I've seen my share of racks, they have a long history in the genre. It was just odd. Then again I'm a heterosexual woman, so the titillation factor doesn't work on me. Toss a bit of male nudity in and then we'll see how I feel.

I would say that my favorite segment was the last, "10/31/98." I might be biased, I love haunted/possessed houses, ghosts and Halloween. And the music! MU330, Alkaline Trio and Link 80, be still my teenage ska/punk loving heart! The refreshing lack of female nudity may have been a factor as well. The story was good, the acting was better, the visuals and effects were great and despite the continuing epidemic of royal stupidity the characters seemed influenced by I did give a shit about them.

I know I sound very negative about V/H/S, but truth be told there were some redeeming factors. Even in the three segments that I was lukewarm about there were some decent scares and interesting stories or different effects that were worth seeing. I think many people will find something they like in here, and it should be seen at least for discovering whatever that might be.

V/H/S from Magnet Releasing
V/H/S via
V/H/S streaming via

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