Every year there is that one horror film that gets internet buzz thanks to pre-screenings and festival appearances. They are the films that send horror fans scouring their resources in an effort to acquire and most often, they are worth the efforts. Last year, it was A Serbian Film. The year before it was Trick R Treat. I Saw the Devil, Martyrs and The Human Centipede are also good examples.
This year, V/H/S was unquestionably the film we most sought after by genre fans. With pieces of the film directed by such household names as Adam Wingard (The ABCs of Death, A Horrible Way to Die) and Ti West (The Innkeepers, House of the Devil), the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2012 and started its legacy as being ‘the’ movie to locate in any format available.
V/H/S is another film in the long-past-its-due-date found footage format. The film opens with a group of vagrants burglarizing a house in an attempt to acquire a VHS tape. Then, to quote the film’s official synopsis, “they discover more found footage than they bargained for.”
There are six separate stories that then make up the anthology. Tape 56 directed by Wingard, Amateur Night directed by David Bruckner, Tuesday the 17th by Glenn McQuaid, 10/31/98 by Radio Silence, Second Honeymoon by Ti West and The Strange Thing That Happened to Emily when she was Young by Joe Swanburg.
Tape 56 is the story that bookends the piece, but it is also the most uninteresting and the unsteady cam coupled with an uneventful plot springboards V/H/S into the mess that it eventually becomes. The opening segment seemed so long and underdeveloped, we were shifted in our seats and looking at our watch with the film barely 12 minutes into its (gulp) 116 minute running time.
Only the concluding story, 10/31/98 about a group of friends setting out for a Halloween party that find themselves in a haunted house, was anything worthy of our attention or notes. Sure, Amateur Night about three guys who take two women to a hotel room only to find out that one of them is some kind of flesh hungry creature, and Strange Thing That Happened To Emily were mildly amusing, but neither grabbed us by the balls or had us in any way interested on what happened to the lead characters in each storyline.
Ti West’s Second Honeymoon raises some big flags for us. It was the least interesting in a lesser interesting film and this marks the third such failure for the much heralded director after The Innkeepers and his M is for Miscarriage – his segment in The ABCs of Death anthology.
Having had waited from January’s Sundance premiere until late September to screen V/H/S, our disappointment was fuelled by heightened anticipation. But V/H/S is clearly no Trick R Treat or I Saw The Devil. Instead, it is a boring found footage annoyance with few scares and little recommendation qualities.