V/H/S is a found footage anthology that promises big scares but delivers only a portion. Utilizing no less than 8 directors to shoot the various segments, each brings a different in style and tone allowing the stronger ones to overshadow the weak spots. Anthology films can be risky thing, as quality between segments sometimes varies wildly enough to imbalance the entire film, but it is not the case with V/H/S.
Without running through each segment, and ruining the fun, the premise is that a group of goons are hired to break into a house and find a specific VHS tape. Upon entering and exploring, they begin to watch tapes in turn, and the audience along with them. Between the segments, we are treated to the ongoing misadventures of our goons and begin to see what their fate will be. The segments themselves include some sort of harpy, some party goers who find more than they bargained for in a haunted house, a couple having trouble in the desert, a supernatural serial killer and a girl’s haunted apartment.
The team does a good job of making each story a complete story. The ending of each is creative, in different ways, yet all satisfying. While all have some scares, some don’t quite hold up to the rest. The film showcases the talents of young horror filmmakers doing what they do best. Ranging from the visceral and suggested, to the gory/in your face types of horror. As a result, the film has an eclectic mix of styles that should satisfy every type of horror fan.
This is first and foremost a fan film for the genre, playing to the dark and frightening moments that they all love. Innocent and guilty are equally damned; their only true mistake was that of being in the wrong place, or with the wrong person, (or both) at the wrong time. Each hits its mark well, with a minimum of setup and enough character development to understand their motivations. Each seems to work within one subgenre or another of the horror lexicon, with a unique twist and vision.
The common theme is the cam that the film was shot with. While an interesting concept, some will find the constant shakiness of the camera visually difficult to watch after a time. Running at an hour and a half, it seems to never have any of the cameras hold still during that entire period. Add to that the often bad nature and quality of VHS plus the added effects of tape distortion, the film can become hard to keep looking at in some segments.
While the trend has been to create found footage films to cover for lack of money, technical skill or creativity, in this case, the filmmakers seem to have actually understood that most people try to look at what is happening rather than the ground, or the sky, or something else when the action starts. The cam stands in for what the people are supposed to be seeing, not just what the director wants you to see. For the most part, they do a good job of relaying these people are living and experiencing this, not just filming a movie.
Recommended for horror fans, or anyone looking for a good scare or two. A well rounded anthology that most horror film fans will enjoy.