V/H/S

Doc Manson returns to B-Movie Geek this October to take the #SHOCKTOBER Horror Movie Challenge! The goal? 31 films in the 31 days of October. We’re up to movie #10, the highly regarded horror anthology V/H/S (2012). So, how does this one hold up under the watchful eye of the B-Movie Geek?

Quite well, actually! Each of the five stories told in the film is directed by a different director, adding a bit of variety to the proceedings. The film also has an over-arcing story, revolving around a group of hoodlums that have taken to filming themselves committing petty crimes. They are hired by an unknown party to break into an apartment and steal a VHS tape, although its contents are not specified to the audience. The hoodlums find a dead man in the apartment, and they spread out to search for the tape. One of the vandals sits down in front of a television and plays one of the nearby VHS tapes, beginning our first story.

Of all of the tales spun in V/H/S, the first, Amateur Night directed by David Bruckner, might be my favorite. It’s a tale as old as time; a bunch of college-age bros go to the bar to pick up loosely-moraled women for a night of casual sex and they record themselves using a camera hidden inside a pair of eyeglasses. Like I said, a tale as old as time. It turns out that one of the women they bring back to their hotel room is way more woman than any of these boys can handle. Amateur Night tells a complete, compact story and features a visually striking monster design.

My second favorite tale is titled Tuesday the 17th, an obvious ode to the Friday the 13th series. In this short, a survivor of a massacre returns to the wooded lake where it occurred in an attempt to discover the true nature of the killer. The twists here are two fold: 1) the girl has brought a group of friends with her in an attempt to use them as bait for the killer; 2) the killer has some sort of metaphysical presence, where he can appear in multiple locations at once and, when harmed, can simply sort of phase in and out of reality and be healed. Supplementing this latter point, the killer also causes some sort of artifact to appear on film, so we never get a clear look at him/it. I thought this short was a exceptionally cool modern interpretation of the classic slasher story.

There are a few other shorts, but I think the only other one I want to mention is Second Honeymoon, directed by Ti West. West is a known horror director, and he has a number of well received throw-back style films on his resume. Offered as context, I am a pretty big fan of his slow burn haunting picture, The Innkeepers. This short might have been the least interesting in the film. It isn’t bad, necessarily, and it fits thematically, but there’s really nothing especially unique about this story. I honestly felt it could have been elimated from the film without any great loss. Sorry, Ti. Better luck next time.

All said, V/H/S is 116 minutes well spent for any horror fan. I don’t often find competent anthology films, but when done correctly they can be very engaging thanks to their oft-quickened pace. V/H/S is no exception, and is easily a film that every horror fan should at least check out.

Five stars.

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