Courtesy of Magnet Releasing
For those who have kept an ear to the ground of the independent horror film circuit since early summer, they might have been exposed to the overwhelming hype surrounding the mysterious footage of a film entitled simply V/H/S. The film is an anthology of collected shorts collaboratively written and directed by horror’s latest wave of aspiring brats that plan on marking their territories within the horror genre. V/H/S’s directing and writing crew consists of Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid and Joe Swanberg, the collective known as “Radio Silence,” and the most popular brat from this band of misfits, Ti West, who has already made a big statement in the indie-horror world with such features as House of the Devil and The Innkeepers.
Viewers are introduced to the film in a disoriented manner, and the film ends abruptly. In a haze of static and digitized pixilation from the dead format of video cassette tapes, a perverted film crew is tipped off that upon entry of an assumed abandoned house, and the obtaining of a “special” vhs tape, the group will be handsomely rewarded. However, no task ever seems to be as easy as it may sound. Things start to go wrong in the once-thought abandoned structure. Members of the film crew come across a collection of tapes and while viewing them, they discover that each bit of the found footage is more disturbing than the last. The shorts are vast with varying content, tapping into ideas of folkloric beasts that thrive on sexuality, the archetypical kids screwin’ around in the woods, the stranger intruding on the (un)happily honeymooning couple and what really takes place during a supposed long distance relationship.
V/H/S’s approach works with certain constraints that have either been highly favored or have been highly criticized within the horror genre. The film utilizes a found footage aspect reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project, while putting the viewer in several uncomfortable positions with a point-of-view perspective almost throughout the entirety of each short. Viewers with a weaker stomach might want to keep a disposable vessel in close proximity to, well, “hold” their lunch, because the film is essentially two hours of shaky handy-cam work. The idea of an anthologized narrative is a concept that will either leave the viewer eerily satisfied or absurdly confused. Happy for a short and sweet piece of macabre storytelling, or confused because so much, or in some cases, so little information is trying to fit inside of a twenty minute short.
V/H/S feels like a composited version of “show and tell” for film students and that’s why it’s entertaining. It’s the raw and unpolished characteristic that instills its viewers with a sense of primal fear. The film doesn’t make a point to follow any logic or function of explanation through elaborate exposition, though developing one’s own theories and speculations is half of the viewing pleasure. V/H/S is a horror fan’s nightmare come true.