John’s Horror Corner: V/H/S (2012), a fun little anthology
MY CALL: Looking for a film that features vampire chicks, zombies, poltergeists, aliens and even has elements of a “house movie?” Well, depending my interpretation of what I saw in the melee of clips from this film you may be in for all that and more…all be it in small doses. We get to taste a lot of stories and ideas and, if we don’t like one of the shorts after ten minutes, just wait ten more minutes for the next one to start. If you like anthologies then don’t miss this. IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH: Trick ’r Treat (2007), the Creepshow franchise (1982, 1987, 2006), the upcoming more scene-than-story 26-short The ABC’s of Death, and if you want something truly raunchy Chillerama (2011). TRAILER: CLICK HERE. RELEASE DATE: While this is already available on Amazon and Video-on Demand (since August 31st, 2012), the actual theatrical release date is October 5th, 2012.
Episodic horror anthology meets found footage as the movie opens with random home movies of three miscreants performing a series of arrestable offenses. They seem to do what they do purely for fun and will surely deserve whatever ill-fate that may find them by this movie’s end.
Somehow one of these guys was offered a smash-and-grab job to steal a videotape from someone’s home. For some truly idiotic reason—though quite convenient for this movie’s concept—not one, but two of these criminals decide to videotape this crime. They break into the house and find the owner dead in an armchair, sitting in front of half a dozen TVs that are still on, besieged by VHS videotapes.
Anyway, clearly one of these guys never saw The Ring because he happily starts watching the tapes one after the other, alone, in the room with the dead guy who was watching the tapes! As he watches his cohorts search the rest of the house and we watch the short films that comprise this episodic anthology. Like many such episodic horror film, the introductory story additionally moves on briefly in between the shorts with interesting developments.
These short films vary substantially in film, acting, gore, direction and writing quality. The first, fourth and fifth (out of five) short films were much better than the second and third, both of which were so mundane I’d be happier if they were altogether omitted at the expense of the film’s running time. Below is a summary of each short film and, sometimes, a cheeky quote…
The link above leads to a site with the complete version each of these five images.
Amateur Night. A group of frat-type guys, one with a spy-camera in his eyeglasses, go whoring around town with the ambition of getting tits on film. The spy-wared individual, later quite inebriated, picks up a pale, squirrely, large-eyed girl (Hannah Fierman; The Vampire Diaries). After a healthy dose of seriously drunk driving, acquaintance rape and group sex, their squirrely girl goes absolutely ape-shit-feral. What ensues is purely shock cinema, as if it wasn’t already testing boundaries, complete with murder sex, bloody full frontal male and female nudity, gore, and genital dismemberment. [Spoiled by the trailer…SPOILER from here…] This chick, which I can only describe as a cross between a rabid cat-woman and a vampire, is truly creepy, awkward, brutal, sexy and terrifying all at once. […to here. End SPOILER] The story ends on a cheesy, yet appropriate note. This was a great shock-short with very strong make-up and effects.
Best Quote: In an effort to dissuade his friend from having sex with the squirrely chick, one bro says to the other “Wait, man. Don’t do it. Look at her feet.” Director: David Bruckner (The Signal) really impressed me here. I’d love to see this as an entire movie, but I’m not sure how that would work. Of course, I thought that about Splice, which turned out fine in my eyes.
“Like shooting fish in a barrel. Right, bro?”
Second Honeymoon. A young couple (Joe Swanberg and Sophia Takal) take a road trip out west. After retiring to their hotel room for the evening a young woman (Kate Lynn Sheil) knocks on their door and requests a ride, which the couple denies. After they fall asleep…I’m not revealing anything else about this short, not that there’s much to spoil. The couple’s dynamic is entertaining to watch, but the “horror” of the short just wasn’t there and the attempted “shock” at the end wasn’t shocking.
Best Quote: While recording her on a video camera a guy says to his girlfriend “Hey, take off your sweatshirt. I have a really good idea.” Director: Ti West (The ABCs of Death, The Innkeepers) disappointed me here. He was going for ultra-creepy but delivered nothing but lame.
Tuesday the 17th. This short combined the teleporting Jason Voorhees killer concept with the Freddy Krueger dream-killer meets White Noise premise mached-up via Blair Witch’s shaky video camera. Sound bold? Maybe too bold? This short never had a chance to develop and the delivery was cheap, uncreative and poorly executed. The gore was also poor, though abundant. Want to know about the plot? Four college kids go to a lake house. That’s right. They go to a Cabin in the Woods and it doesn’t pay off for them or the viewers. That about covers it.
Best Quote: “You should’ve ninja’d that shit!” Director: Glenn McQuaid (I Sell the Dead) got one thing right here. Camera tricks. They’re no longer original, but they perked my interest before I lost interest in this short.
The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily. A guy has a series of Skype dates with his long distance college girlfriend (the very cute Helen Rogers). Over the course of these recorded Skype calls (even though in the film they complain that they weren’t recording them—yet here some criminal is watching them on a VHS tape in a dead guy’s house) they investigate her “haunted” apartment. The mood is good. The scares were decent and made me jumpy. There is also some very effective head-turning gore. Not really gory, but a strong sort of off-putting in a couple scenes. The ending makes no sense and even leads us to scratch our heads and question the true genre of the short.
Director: Joel Swanberg (You’re Next) did well. I liked getting to know the characters. I found their couple’s dynamic credible and interesting in a way that served the story quite well. And I liked that it could make me jump…sort of…internally at least. You know what I mean?
10/31/98. Four bros go to a Halloween party. But the house is empty. They explore, a few odd things happen, and they find some Klan rally-exorcism-virgin sacrifice evidently transpiring in the attic. The bros try to save the damsel under the assumption that the aggressive hillbillies rallying around her are the bad guys. From here, what started out as a seemingly aimless short turned into a fantastically done “house movie” escape with cool effects, some of which felt unique to this film. Pulse-ghost-zombie arms reaching through the walls and the floors, objects flying about, a window actually shrinks so as to create a sense that the outside world was closed off to the house’s captives… really nicely done.
Director: “Radio Silence,” a troupe of several young directors, impressed me. What doesn’t impress me is their troupe name, which makes it difficult for me to follow their work and upcoming projects on IMDB.
Just because I disliked a couple of these shorts in no way means this wasn’t a fun experience. We get to taste a lot of stories and ideas and, if we don’t like one of the shorts after ten minutes, we just wait ten more minutes for the next one to start. If you like anthologies then don’t miss this.
You’d probably like to know what’s up with this, huh? You’ve gotta’ watch to find out!