V/H/S is a horror anthology that consists of a framing story and five different segments, each directed by a different person. V/H/S is long for a horror film, two hours. The format is found-footage, which means the movie looks grainy and amateurish. This feels like the type of cheap horror flick you’d pick up at your local video store back when video stores still existed.
The framing story is about a bunch of fuck-ups stealing a VHS tape from an old man’s house. When they break in they find the old man sitting in his armchair before a bunch of VHS tapes and TV sets. The old man’s dead, except sometimes he gets up and walks around. The F-Us need to find the correct tape, so they start watching them all, and that’s when the fun starts.
The first segment, Amateur Night, involves a bunch of drunk dudes on the prowl who end up bringing home more woman than they can handle. I’m not sure if the director realized that the dude-bros are about a thousand times scarier than the monster, but since the dude-bros in question seem to be V/H/S’ target audience, I’m guessing not.
Second Honeymoon, about a vacationing couple, is directed by Ti West (House of the Devil fame), which means the story meanders along until something totally fucked up happens. The foreshadowing in this segment is so well-hidden it kills any suspense. You could watch it again to catch everything you missed, but is that a fair trade-off for the twenty minutes of life you’d lose?
Tuesday the 17th is about a killer in the woods who can only be seen through a video camera. It’s pretty typical hack/slash stuff. The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger is the best of the bunch. It’s about a guy’s long distance relationship via webcam with his girlfriend, who’s having unwanted night visitors. 10/31/98 features a bunch of stupid drunk guys who go to a Halloween party at the wrong house that seems to be empty but isn’t.
I’d heard mixed reviews about V/H/S before I watched it. Some people thought this movie was too long and dragged, but I’m not one of them. V/H/S held my interest. I thought the look and feel of all the segments was pretty consistent, and the use of found-footage was creative and interesting. That’s the good.
The bad: the lack of respect for women in this movie borders on misogyny. V/H/S has a sleazy vibe that is really off-putting (to me, anyway). I’m not sure if they were going for a grindhouse vibe, but it really backfired. The movie feels like it was made by a bunch of frat boys. There are way too many shots of leering guys and bare breasts. The directors are all men. There are good female directors in the horror community. Why not invite a few of them to the party?