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V/H/S

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    Ian Jane
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  • V/H/S



    Released by: Magnolia Films
    Released on: December 4, 2012.

    Director: Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Radio Silence

    Cast: Calvin Reeder, Lane Hughes, Adam Wingard

    Year: 2012

    Purchase From Amazon


    The Movie:


    An anthology film made up of five short stories by five different directors, 2012's V/H/S is linked by Adam Wingard's bookend segments which introduce us to a group of low fi redneck porno movie makers who use VHS era camcorders to coerce women into showing their goods for a quick buck. At the behest of an unseen client they wind up having to break into a house to find a specific tape that's stashed there but find once they've made their way in that the owner of the home is dead and that there are tapes all over the place. As some members of the group explore the house, one lone man starts digging through the tapes and checking them out. This sets up the stories that follow in this two hour found footage horror movie that plays out like this…


    The first story is from David Bruckner. Dubbed Amateur Night, it follows a trio of guys who invest in some glasses that have a built in video camera. They head out for a night of debauchery and hope to film their exploits starting with a visit to a club where they pick up two girls - the first a fairly normal drunken floozy, the other a strange but attractive dark haired lady named Lily (Hannah Fierman) who whispers to our camera man 'I like you.' They head back to the hotel and when the drunken floozy falls asleep, the horniest of the three makes his move on our dark haired lady. It goes downhill very quickly from here.


    Basically a case of three misogynist frat boys getting what they deserve, this one is a bit predictable. We know early on that the dark haired lady is… different and that something is going to be up with her. The execution, however, is pretty intense and it gets surprisingly gory. This one is fairly well done, but the shaky cam thing gets way out of hand in spots. Hannah Fierman is pretty great in this one, however - she makes it worth watching and delivers a completely bizarre albeit very memorable performance.


    The second story is from Ti West and it is, in many ways, the best of the movie. Called Second Honeymoon it follows the husband and wife team of Sam (Joe Swanberg) and Stephanie (Sophia Takal) as they explore Arizona on a little vacation that takes them to the Grand Canyon. All of this seems fine except when they get to the hotel where they have two separate beds. Sam tries to talk Stephanie into make a dirty movie but no dice. When they get a knock on the door from a girl wanting them to drive her somewhere in the morning, they think it odd but don't let it stop them from getting some sleep. When the lights go off though…


    This one moves at a considerably slower pace, as West's movies are apt to do, but it builds really nicely and unlike the other stories it stays completely within the realm of believability. It's well acted, quite tense, and uses the found footage motif to enhance the story and not cover up sloppy filmmaking. It's a clever short, could have made for an interesting full length feature actually.


    Glenn McQuaid's Tuesday the 17th is the third story. It follows a dopey jock and his girlfriend who team up with his nerdy pal and her cheerleader BFF to head up to a cabin in the woods for a little fun. On the way there, girl number one tells the other three that they're all going to die out there and then that's more or less what happens. It turns out that our little lady has a strange past that ties into the cabin and her previous experiences there and that she's looking for some closure, even if that means using her friends as bait.


    The weakest of the five main stories but by no means awful, this one uses technology in strange ways and it isn't all that successful in the way it tries to work in comic relief. Some good gore makes it worth it for horror fans and there's an interesting idea here, even if the execution isn't all that amazing.


    More interesting is the fourth story, The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger from Joe Swanberg. Told entirely from the perspective of a webcam conversation, we meet cute but odd looking Emily (Helen Rogers) who is away from her boyfriend James (Daniel Kaufman), a med student. They make chit chat, she flashes him, and then they talk about her apartment which she believes to be haunted. When she provides some evidence to him by way of the webcam on her laptop, she asks him to record it so that there will be some proof. She also wonders what could have caused the strange bump on her arm.


    This one has a nice twist to it that most won't likely see coming and also has a few solid jump scares as well. There's a bit of blood, a bit of nudity, and two rather disturbing scenes of body horror that will definitely get under your skin. It feels a bit like The Collingswood Story at first but goes in its own direction with really only the whole 'webcam' style tying the two movies together. This one is also very well acted on the part of Helen Rogers.


    Last but not least we have 10/31/98 by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, and Chad Villella - better known as Radio Silence. This one starts with four friends who are heading out to a Halloween party, one of them with a camera built into his teddy bear costume. When they show up at the house it seems like nobody is there until they head up towards the attic where they hear some strange noises. There they find some cult members about to sacrifice a girl. They get her out of there before the cultists can do the deed but it soon becomes very obvious that they've angered something they should not have angered.


    Haunted house fans will get a kick out of this one even if the special effects are sometimes a little too obviously digital to really be as effective as they should have been. It takes a little longer than the other stories to get moving but once it does it hits the ground running and makes for a nice conclusion of the five main stories.


    Of course, there's also the linking segments that have yet to finish, but that ends on a rather lousy note - let's not let it spoil the bulk of the content here, most of which is pretty decent. All in all, a lot more about this movie works than doesn't and while there are definitely moments where the whole found footage angle simply doesn't work that well (there are inconsistencies in terms of aspect ratios and VHS related technical quirks galore), if you're willing and able to look past that this is a nice little collection of well told scary stories done with the hard R audience in mind and a decent two hours of entertainment.


    Video/Audio/Extras:


    V/H/S is meant to look like found footage, shot with either consumer grade DV cameras or on, as you could probably guess, VHS footage. Framed at 1.78.1 widescreen and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition, the movie looks about as good as something we're supposed to believe was shot unprofessionally and on the fly should look. Tape rolls and drops out, video glitches, compression artifacts and macroblocking are all part of the 'look' of the movie so they are here and quite plentiful but it works in the context of the story being told, though they are frequently exaggerated and, at the risk of being techy and dorky, old school VHS camcorder footage really should be presented fullframe.


    Again, at the risk of being techy and dorky, the English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track here is way more aggressive and enveloping than anything shot 'in camera' could ever be. So we lose a bit of our suspension of disbelief here. The pay off? The movie sounds really damn good and the surround activity, which is fairly constant, helps to put us in the same situations that the characters in the movie find themselves in. Optional subtitles are provided in English SDH and Spanish.


    Pretty much all of the filmmakers involved in this project, Ti West being the main exception, join together for a lively and sometimes fairly chaotic commentary track that offers up some insight into how this project came to be, why the various filmmakers joined in and what they were all going for here. There's a fair bit of goofing around and a partial focus on humor here but there are still some interesting facts and figures tossed around which makes it worthwhile.


    From there, check out the twenty-nine minutes of cast and crew interviews where we get input from Brad Miska, Zak Zeman, Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Ti West, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg and Simon Barrett. AXS TV: A Look at V/H/S is a five minute promotional behind the scenes bit while the thirteen minutes worth of Webcam interviews are a few conversations recorded over Skype with Simon Barrett, Helen Rogers and by Joe Swanberg. We also get a quick one and a half minute Alternate Ending, a two and a half minute prequel snippet called More Tuesday the 17th and a three and a half minute behind the scenes segment called Amateur Night Balloon Night that shows us how the last shot of the first story was accomplished. Rounding out the extras is a behind the scenes still gallery, a gallery of conceptual art, a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Magnolia properties, animated menus and chapter selection.


    The Final Word:


    This won't appease those over the whole found footage angle but V/H/S is worth seeing - it's interesting, well made, and fairly depraved but also offers up a few genuine scares. Magnolia's Blu-ray more or less looks as good as it should and sounds considerably better, offering up some decent supplements to round out the package nicely.


    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!























    • Nolando
      #1
      Nolando
      Senior Member
      Nolando commented
      Editing a comment
      THANK YOU for joining me in support Ti West's contribution to this movie!
    Posting comments is disabled.

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