V/H/S (2012) – The Dungeon Review!
It is December and I am reviewing my third 2012 horror film. What can I say? Staying current has never been my thing. I’ve seen a few trailers for the year’s films and frankly I have not been terribly moved. There was two films however that did excite me; both as it happens are anthologies. The ABC’s of Death is a project I’ve been following for some time. I posted a little blurb about it September 7, 2011. The second one is the subject of this review; V/H/S. I could not have been less impressed with V/H/S’s first tenish minutes. The connecting story that opens V/H/S features three of the most obnoxious douchebags I have seen in a film in a while. Unfortunately the first story contains yet another trio of idiots. It was an irritatingly bumpy start but by the time the first story ended I was happy as a pig in shit. With the exception of the connector I enjoyed every one of these stories in varying degrees.
Tape 56 – THE CONNECTOR STORY
A trio of guys make coin by grabbing random women and exposing their breasts for their camera. They vandalize a building for kicks and one of them attempts to tape his girl and himself having sex. When the girlfriend notices the red flashing light he pathetically and desperately attempts to lie. They decide to “up” their game and accept a job where they are tasked with breaking into a house to steal a VHS tape. The problem being there are several tapes in the home. We watch five different tapes along with our gang of three.
Amateur Night – TAPE ONE
The first story sees another trio of real “charmers”. The meekest putz amoung them is given a pair of glasses fitted with a hidden camera. The goal? To film themselves getting laid. Somehow they manage to actually pick up two women, and one of the gals has a deliciously violent surprise for our manboys. Hannah Fierman who plays the vicious one night stand was a delight with her sweet face and big doe eyes and looked as harmless as a kitten. She had this little voice and kept whispering “I like you”. The effects are superb in this segment and the death is ever so satisfying. Lesson learned: think with your dick and you just might lose it. I got a real kick out of this one…especially the final seconds via aerial view. Love it!
Second Honeymoon – TAPE TWO
Tape two features couple Sam and Stephanie taking a road trip doing the silly tourist things one does when vacationing. Stephanie obsessively tapes every second. They stay at a motel and just as they are about to bed down for the night there is a knock at the door. Sam opens the door to find a young woman requesting a ride which for reasons he can not quite explain disturbs him. This is the only story of the lot that is not supernatural. Second Honeymoon features just one death and it is rather fast and no nonsense. Not to say that is a bad thing; I thought this story was great and I loved its simple but effective twist.
Tuesday the 17th – TAPE THREE
Wendy invites three friends to accompany her to a cabin she goes to each year; at least that is the story she tells them. Wendy’s intentions are ill to say the least, but not how you might expect. Tuesday the 17th is the goriest film of the lot with a significant body count. The story itself is pretty wacky and somewhat humorous with a bit of a 80s slasher vibe. The recording device in this one is a good old fashioned video camera and the story’s menace is positively electric! Tuesday the 17th is a shitload of fun!
The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger – TAPE FOUR
The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily when She Was Younger is a series of Skype calls. Rather clever idea actually. Emily has several conversations with her boyfriend James. Emily complains of a sore arm and can not stop itching and rubbing it and at one point cuts her arm open. She experiences what appears to be a haunting which James witnesses; but none of this is what it seems. This is the least gory of the entries with a body count of zilch but in my opinion it was the creepiest. Emily was the only character in the entire set I can say I actually felt significant empathy for. Cruel and creepy excellence!
10/31/98 – TAPE FIVE
10/31/98 as you might have guessed takes place on Halloween night. A quartet of friends, one dressed in a bear costume equipped with a nanny cam head to a house party. When they get to the house there is no one there. They wander about the home which is seemingly rigged with spooky props. All part of the show they believe. Or is it? They throw everything but the kitchen sink in here and the finale is crazy over-the-top. The ending is certainly grim but it was too nuts to take seriously. I found 10/31/98 hilariously entertaining!
Tape 56 – THE CONNECTOR STORY FINALE
I should add that this connector is the segue between each tape, and thankfully they keep the moments with these morons brief after the opening bit. It was disappointing it didn’t end on a more satisfying note. The only good thing I can say about this connecting story is its monster was kinda cool even if we only see him for a few seconds.
The handheld camera/found footage sub-genre has been pretty hit and miss from what I’ve seen. V/H/S manages to come up with five unique ideas centering around the use of recording devices. With the exception of the connecting story the segments range from good to awesome and each tape has something nifty to offer. I wish V/H/S hadn’t had such a bumpy start. It should have started with a story other than Amateur Night. Although Amateur Night’s second half more than makes up for its start, its segue between the obnoxious opening trio to an equally annoying trio really turned me off. Otherwise, I enjoyed the hell out of this collection! V/H/S is fast paced, funny, creepy, gory and a real blast! Highly recommended!
Dungeon Rating: 4/5
Directed By: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, David Bruckner, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Chad Villella, Ti West, Adam Wingard, Radio Silence
Starring: Calvin Reeder, Lane Hughes, Kentucker Audley, Adam Wingard, Frank Stack, Sarah Byrne, Melissa Boatright, Simon Barrett, Hannah Fierman, Mike Donlan, Joe Sykes, Drew Sawyer, Jas Sams, Joe Swanberg, Sophia Takal, Kate Lyn Sheil, Norma C. Quinones, Drew Moerlein, Jeannine Elizabeth Yoder, Jason Yachanin, Bryce Burke, Helen Rogers, Daniel Kaufman, Liz Harvey, Chad Villella, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Paul Natonek, Nicole Erb