I love anthology horror movies. I love anthology horror movies for the same reason that I love horror short stories – the stories are short. They tend to be all killer and no filler if you’re lucky. Creepshow, Black Sabbath, Campfire Tales, Cat’s Eye, the more recent Trick ‘r Treat, and the underrated Tales from the Crypt from 1972 all vary in quality and in delivered goods but at least if one of the stories sucks they don’t last long! Netflix, Amazon, On Demand, etc are all stacked to the ceiling with crap horror flicks that go on forever with little or nothing in return for your time. I’m happily surprised to report that V/H/S does not waste your time.


Are you sick to death of found footage genre films? Well too bad because this flick doubles down on the found footage premise. Not only are the individual stories found footage but the entire movie is framed around the “Tape 56” found footage arc that follows a group of particularly dumb and awful young criminals as they land a job to steal a certain tape from a seemingly abandoned house. What does this merry band of jagoffs stumble upon? A whole damn bunch of tapes!


Now, bear in mind that they don’t know which tape they’re looking for or even have a title or general description of the footage on said tape so as to identify it. Damn. I guess they’re going to have to watch a few, huh? What follows are five shorts directed by five different directors each choosing a different style of horror story to showcase. 


Amateur Night, directed by David Bruckner, is the creature feature of the five and a damn good one too! Writer and director of 2009’s The House of the Devil Ti West, takes on murder in what I found to be the most disturbing story of the five with Second Honeymoon. The slasher of young folks in the woods a la Friday the 13th is offered up with an interesting twist by Glenn McQuaid as Tuesday the 17th. The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger directed by Joe Swanberg is sci-fi story that uses the trappings of a haunting. While this one was not my personal favorite it should still be applauded for trying something different. Finally we have a straight up effects heavy haunted house story in 10/31/98 directed by Radio Silence that I found, for the most part, quite clever and refreshing. “Hey, Chuckles? There are like fifty other tapes in this place. Why watch only five?” Because shit starts to get real for our criminals away from the VCR, son! Also, the possibility for a sequel abounds and is apparently already in pre-preproduction. Hazzah!    


V/H/S is not The Shining. V/H/S is not Rosemary’s Baby or The Exorcist or even (insert your favorite horror movie here). This film may never inspire the same reverence in horror snobs that the aforementioned films have but goddamn it really goes for it! I really got the vibe from all of the directors involved that they are sick to death of what is being paraded around by Hollywood as good horror movies. They, like many of us that call horror our pet film genre, want horror movies to get on with it and deliver the goods! With stories that are short, sweet, and to the point, V/H/S is a ballsy take on an almost forgotten style of film making and just a damn good time. V/H/S delivers.

Clarkson Campbell


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