SXSW 2012: ‘V/H/S’ Rewinds The Fright & Resurrects Dead Formats

Posted by Rod Paddock - March 16th 2012 @ 3:50 pm

In early to mid 70’s the face of Hollywood was changed forever by a new wave of horror directors. One of these directors was Steven Spielberg who would direct episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, films like Duel and Jaws. Other members of this motley band of friends included George Lucas with his tale of a dystopian future THX-1138, and Brian De Palma with his take on Steven King’s classic, Carrie. Movie making is a collaborative effort and many times these directors collaborated and critiqued each others work.

Fast forward to 2012, where a new wave of horror directors has entered the Hollywood scene. These directors include Ti West, Adam Wingard, Joe Swanberg, Radio Silence, Glenn McQuaid and David Bruckner. The horror output of these up and comers includes: The Signal, The Innkeepers, The House of the Devil, A Horrible Way To Die, You’re Next and I Sell The Dead. V/H/S is a film that unites these directors’ unique perspective on horror into an anthology of 5 short stories.

V/H/S is told in the context of a group of guys hired to break into a house to steal “the tape”. These misfits are a mash-up of the droogs from A Clockwork Orange and the jackasses from Jackass. After creating their own “found footage” flick consisting of smashing stuff up and assaulting women, they set out for their burglary. The group breaks into aforementioned house and stumble upon the body of “the collector”. The collector has amassed a collection of the most twisted VHS “found footage” tapes ever created. The wraparound story consists of the viewing of tapes from this collection.

V/H/S gives a fresh take on many favorite (and often times overused) horror memes. The stories in the anthology include: creepy kid ghosts, a couple on a road trip who should have never answered the door, a vampire from Mayan mythology, college kids on a woodland adventure, and a truly creepy haunted house. The filmmakers really show their understanding of horror and bring unique stories to life from horror cliches. The screenwriting for this film is solid and ranges from tightly scripted to improvised.

It’s interesting to comment on the cinematography of the film, as the goal was to emulate film shot with a camcorder or web cam. In this context it works. As is to be expected a lot of the film is shot in “shakey cam” if you have a difficult time watching these types of films, you have been warned. The special effects in this film are convincing. V/H/S utilizes a combination or CGI and practical effects. It is difficult to see where one is used vs the other, which is a testament to the quality of this film.

If you are looking for a fun horror movie full of heart-pounding scares, un-forseen twists and fresh looks at old horror memes, look no further than V/H/S. V/H/S can stand proud among the ranks of great horror anthologies like Creepshow and Tales from the Crypt.


Grade: A


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