"It's terrifying," they said. "It's the scariest movie of the year," they said. Okay, let's just cut to the chase: V/H/S sucked. It didn't only suck as a movie, but it totally sucked two beautiful hours out of my life that I will never get back. When I watch a horror movie, I at least want one thing and one thing only - to get scared. V/H/S didn't scare, startle, or frighten me, and it's even more pathetic when SIX guys were put behind the camera to direct different segments of the film. And believe it or not, one of these guys is Ti West, the talented director who made this year's The Innkeepers. Halfway through the movie, I was at least hoping it would take A LITTLE bit of the Devil Inside taste out of my mouth. Unfortunately, I might have liked The Devil Inside more, and that was a flaming piss puddle.
What started as an intriguing concept ended as a complete bomb. V/H/S tells six stories. The main story (well, I guess the main one) explores a couple of idiots who break into a house in search for a VHS tape. Why do they want this tape? I don't know. And frankly, I don't care. There is, for some reason, large numbers of VHS tapes in that house and a dead man sitting in a chair. When they encounter five mysterious VHS tapes, they decide to watch them each. Meanwhile, there might be something strange going on in that house.
Now, the film takes you through five different segments. The first issue I had with it before watching it was the fact that the found-footage style was used. The found-footage style works very well in cases like Cloverfield and this year's Chronicle, but it doesn't make a horror movie more effective. Some may argue that directing a horror film with the found-footage style allows for some more realism, which I marginally agree with, but it's mostly a nausea-inducing experience. Shaking the camera doesn't increase the suspense, it rapidly decreases it.
Anyway, let me take you through each tape:
Tape #1 - This story may be the most entertaining of the bunch, which isn't quite saying much because, in the end, they're all underwhelming and pretty bad. It follows three cool guys who go to a sick party. One of the guys wears a pair of glasses with a camera in between the lenses to get footage of the action. They drink, they party, they have a good time, and so do we. They take home two girls. One of the two girls is your average, every day party animal, while the other is a freakshow who consistently repeats the phrase, "I like you." It turns out she's a flesh eating monster, and things get bloody and out of control. I admired this story the most for its hysterical stupidity. The fun of it is that it throws lots of blood, nudity, guts, and a couple laughs at you. The downside is that it's 100% devoid of suspense or frights.
Tape #2 - Please don't ever make me sit through this thing ever again. This story is directed by Ti West (The Innkeepers). It felt more like another attempt at smart from M. Night Shyamalan than a scary short. Don't worry, there aren't any scares to be had here. This one explores a couple on their second honeymoon. They bascially go out into the country and explore. One night in the hotel, a mysterious figure holds the camera and walks around the hotel room, filming both of them sleep. This is a terrific, appropriately chilling sequence. It builds great expectations for a sick ending to this story. Unfortunately, it's an immense disappointment. Aside from that one good scene, this tape is nothing but booooring.
Tape #3 - A group of four (two guys, two girls) go deep into a forest. I don't exactly remember the story about the forest, so if you're going to watch the film, I'll leave you surprised. What I do remember is that this story is almost as stupid as the previous two, again providing high expectations with an extremely disappointing resolution. Nothing tense, nothing gripping, nothing startling, just a slow buildup to crap. And I still don't exactly understand the "invisible killer."
At this point, I've almost lost my faith in the rest of the film. What else could possibly go wrong?
Tape #4 - This time, through a webcam. So now we actually get wide and steady shots instead of a migraine from shaky-cam and people running and screaming. This one follows a couple who chat over the webcam. The girl has been noticing some odd stuff going on throughout her house, and feels an unusual bump in her arm. The bad news is that this story is still just as slow and boring as the previous two, but the good news is there are some creepy moments peppered around. By the way, how does webcam footage randomly appear on a VHS tape?
Tape #5 - Finally! It's almost over! Up to this point, I almost fell asleep, and it's rare that a movie puts me to sleep. This story follows four (or maybe five, I think) dudes who go out in search for a Halloween party. Eventually, they catch eye with a house. They decide to go in and party. But they hear strange things and noises and yells. After spending too much time searching the house, they find a group of men surrounding a girl who they have tied up, performing some kind of ritual. An exorcism? A sacrifice? This leads to some very cool visual stuff and a cool climax, which the previous stories had no idea how to deliver. There aren't any scares or surprises, but for a 20-minute horror thing, it's a decent watch.
V/H/S is an atrocious horror film that greets its audience with a good welcome at the beginning of every tape, but leaves them pissed off and enraged. It presents six non-compelling stories, all incoherently filmed with nausea-inducing "found-footage" shaky-cam. There isn't any character development because of the short duration of each tape, the execution is murky and messy, and, worst of all, there is not a single scare to be had here. It's unbelievably boring and slow, and it doesn't help when the movie is nearly two hours in length. Sorry to say it, but V/H/S is one of the year's worst films.