The year of Joseph Gordon-Levitt rolls on with Looper.

Taking place in 2044, Gordon-Levitt plays Joe Simmons, a Looper whose job is to kill agents that are sent back in time (from 2074) by the mafia. Once killed, Joe receives a payout for his job and disposes of the body. Joe has been stockpiling his payouts, as a precaution for an inevitable fate.

In 2074, the older version of Joe (Bruce Willis) travels back to 2044 with a plan of his own. He escapes from Young Joe and continues on with his agenda. As Young Joe has let his older self escape, he needs to make amends with his boss, Abe, (Jeff Daniels) and kill his older self.

Once the plot has kicked in, the dystopian version of Kansas City eventually is transitioned to a farmhouse where Sara (Emily Blunt) and Cid (Pierce Gagnon) live. Old Joe and Young Joe have reasons to be here, and Sara and Cid are caught in the middle of a situation that they know nothing about...yet.

Rian Johnson wrote and directed this sci-fi/thriller which blends full-fledged action along with a smart script. With all the details regarding the time travel aspect along with multiple on-going storylines, this script really is able to balance out story with action in a fluid manner where the film does not suffer.

What threw me for a loop (I guess, pun intended) was that most of what is shown in the commercials and the trailers happens in the first half of the film. The sequences involving a dystopian city and showcasing what the future looks like are all crammed into the first half of the film, along with a good amount of action sequences. Once the plot moves to the farmhouse, the storyline slows down to explain what is going on and why we are here. I was actually surprised how much of the film is spent at the farmhouse and how much the story slowed down, and not in a bad way.

Regarding the performances, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his prosthetic makeup do a pretty good job at creating a character and resembling Bruce Willis. Speaking of Bruno, he shows up and actually does some decent acting for once, but I didn't feel fully invested into his plot. Not to say Old Joe's story is bad, Bruce Willis just did not make me feel as invested into what he wanted.

Jeff Daniels stood out to me as Young Joe's boss, Abe. Jeff Daniels has a likability to him which he uses well in this film. Abe gets along with Young Joe, but still works for the mafia. If what he needs is not given, that nice guy demeanor disappears and out comes a violent mob associate. A small role, but Jeff Daniels gives it his all.

3 sequences stood out for me in this film. The first involves the transition of Joseph Gordon-Levitt into Bruce Willis, or as my dear friend Karina calls it: "Death of Bruce's Hair". The next one is a great sequence showcasing the effects that the mafia torturing someone can have on their future self. The last one occurs near the end of the film where someone reveals a hidden secret and a character feels the full effects of it.

As stated, this is a smart action film that really should be seen. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has gone 2 for 3 so far this year. Shocking that his one miss was a David Koepp film. Rian Johnson is no David Koepp and, for the film Looper, that is a good thing.


The Master

P.T. Anderson returns from a 5 year hiatus and is beginning to emerge into the next Terence Malick.

Set in 1950, alcoholic World War II veteran and sufferer of PTSD, Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) is having trouble adjusting to a normal life. After a series of menial jobs that he cannot adjust to, he drunkenly staggers onto a yacht occupied by Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and his wife Peggy (Amy Adams).

Lancaster takes a liking to Freddie after a series of psychological questions which Lancaster describes as "Processing", he makes Freddie his protege within his movement called: The Cause. Lancaster and his followers continue to spread the word of The Cause with Freddie in tow, but Freddie's alcoholic and violent behavior draw the ire of certain member of The Cause; Peggy included.

Eventually Freddie's frustration within The Cause, which he struggles to believe in, and Lancaster's charismatic personality clash over how to deal with and spread The Cause.

A lot has been made as to whether this film is an attack on Scientology. P.T. Anderson has already stated that Scientology inspired The Cause in this film. There are obvious similarities between Scientology and The Cause including the type of leader and the beliefs between both religions. This should not be the major point to see this film, though, as not one word is spoken about Scientology itself.

The reason I feel this is P.T. Anderson becoming Terence Malick is that this film really lacks any semblance of a plot. The film is pushed forward initially by Freddie joining and viewing The Cause, then by Lancaster Dodd who battles with members of The Cause over whether Freddie is helping or hindering their plan. That is really all there is for a plot, besides that, the film focuses on scenery and the performances.

Speaking of the performances, there should be no doubt that Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman will get nominated for an Academy Award. Joaquin's Freddie Quell has the more showy role. His face shows wear and his walk showcases pain. Freddie has frequent violent outbursts and Joaquin goes full bore into this role.

On the other hand, you have the more nuanced, and in my opinion, better performance, by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Lancaster Dodd is very subtle, and very controlling of his followers of The Cause. There is a scene about halfway into the film where Lancaster is challenged by an outsider about his beliefs. This is an amazing scene and shows all you need to know about his character. He is stoic, charismatic and persuasive, but also has flaws and when he is pushed, cracks in his foundation show. An amazing scene and a really good performance.

This is a film all about performances and has nothing in a way to do with story. As that is, the acting is some of the best of the year along with some gorgeous cinematography and P.T. Anderson does a great job directing all the actors. This is a really well-made character piece that is very light on story.




Richard Linklater re-teams with Jack Black and Matthew McConaughey to bring a black comedy based on a true story.

The true story involves local assistant funeral director, Bernie Tiede, (Jack Black) a resident of Carthage, Texas, who is loved within the community. Bernie sings, sells caskets and comforts widows after their loved one has died. One such widow, Marjorie Nugent, (Shirley MacLaine) is hated amongst the locals of Carthage. Marjorie inherited her husband's wealth and is miserable to everyone she meets. Undeterred, Bernie feels the need to try and be a friend to Marjorie, eventually winning her over.

All that hard work to win Marjorie over, though, is for not as her angry attitude continues a she berates Bernie. For years, Bernie continues to be a friend to Marjorie, while she takes advantage of him and never gives an ounce of respect back. All of Marjorie's negativity takes a toll on Bernie and he eventually shoots and kills Marjorie.

As the residents of Carthage do not like Marjorie, no one really suspects or cares that Marjorie has not been around. District Attorney Danny Buck Davidson (Matthew McConaughey) is on the case and begins an investigation into what happened to Marjorie and trying to prosecute Bernie.

Richard Linklater's film is based on the true story that happened in 1996. Linklater infuses the film with interview segments from the actual residents of Carthage who speak about their love of Bernie and their hatred for Marjorie. Almost half of the film is filled with these interview snippets. Some of the residents and their descriptions are hilarious and some are thought-provoking due to their feelings about the situation.

These interview segments and the way the story is framed were the biggest detractors for the film, in my opinion. Just as the story with the actors gains momentum, we then cut back to the local residents offering their thoughts. This comes off as jarring, even though some of the comments are entertaining. It feels like Richard Linklater wanted to do a film based on this true story, but also wanted to make a documentary on the story by including the locals. Instead of doing one or the other, he felt the need to combine what he wanted and the film did not gel as it should have.

This is not to say the film is a total loss. The performances by Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine are very well done. Jack Black in particular deserves praise for his performance as Bernie Tiede. Yes, a lot of Bernie's performance requires singing, which Black can do, he also provides a sensitive (and effeminate) and caring performance.

On the other end of the spectrum, Matthew McConaughey's performance as the local district attorney does not seem to fit within the film. Whereas Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine blended into their performances, Matthew McConaughey's performance felt more like a caricature than a realized performance of a real person. As no footage of the real Danny Buck Davidson is shown within the film, I have to go off what I felt about Matthew McConaughey's performance.

Overall, this is a very uneven film, but anchored by 2 really good performances.



Premium Rush

David Koepp strikes again!

Wilee (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a New York City bicycle messenger. He is given a package that he has to deliver to a specific person across town by 7:00pm. Hot on his and the package's trail is Bobby Monday, a gambling-addicted New York police officer. Who will succeed in delivering the mysterious package? If you know David Koepp, then you know the answer.

Why is he named Wilee? It's never really explained, and a few coyote jokes are thrown out there to try and liven up the stilted dialogue. And speaking of dialogue, as this is supposed to be one, long chase film, most of the character back stories are thrown out during the bicycle chase. Wilee is smart; yet he hasn't taken the bar exam because he doesn't want to wear a suit and tie. Really? What an asshole. So instead, he lives his life on his bicycle: no brakes.

Michael Shannon gives an over the top performance as Monday. He rides the line between stereotypical corrupt cop and James Bond villain. He is in debt to a local loan shark, but is given the chance to intercept Wilee's packages to clear his debt. No real explanation is given as to why Monday is so over the top, but it really adds nothing to the film.

Beyond these 2 main characters, we have Wilee's friends: his ex-girlfriend, Vanessa, who also works as a bike messenger and also his rival, Manny, who has eyes for Vanessa. Will Vanessa go with Manny or make amends with Wilee? I know, I had no clue either.

Anyway, beyond characters, Koepp infuses the film with a lot of Google Maps-type special effects to pinpoint where Wilee is and where he must get to. Beyond that, Wilee also uses his "bicycle-vision" to slow down time and know exactly where he needs to ride to avoid obstacles. These uses of special effects to try and make the film seem more important grow tiresome very early on and wear out their welcome. These uses of effects seem like a way to spice up what turns out to be a very boring and bland film.

When the film is on the bicycles, the runtime moves the fastest. The chase through New York City is fun; watching the bicycles zip through New York City is entertaining to watch. Unfortunately, the film takes many stops to get off the bicycles and when this happens, the film grinds to a halt. The plot; when detailing the content of what Wilee is carrying, takes itself too seriously. The film should have just stayed on the bicycles and pedaled through until the ending.

As it is, this is a harmless and very forgettable end of the summer offering.



Total Recall

Holy lens flares, Len Wiseman!

Today's review comes from the category of needless remake. If you have seen the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger/Paul Verhoeven classic, you've already seen this film. Congratulations! And if you haven't seen that film, then why even consider watching this one when you have a perfectly good adaptation of Phillip K. Dick's story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale already available on DVD?

Whatever, let's get on with this review.

In the late 21st century, space on the planet Earth is limited. The remaining habitable space has been sectioned off into two areas: The United Federation of Britain and The Colony, which occupies Australia. Travel between the two areas comprise of an elevator known as "The Fall". An underground resistance vows to fight against the UFB's Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston) for improved living.

Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a factory worker who keeps having dreams involving a woman named Melina (Jessica Biel). His wife, Lori, (Kate Beckinsale) tries to reassure him that all is well along with his best friend and co-worker, Harry, (Bokeem Woodbine).

Quaid visits a company called Rekall and wants to be implanted with the memories of a secret agent. During the implantation process, a SWAT team disrupts the party and wants Quaid. Instead, Quaid guns all parties down, and should have thanked the SWAT guys for not firing at him while he was going hand-to-hand with other SWAT members.

Once on the run, Quaid discovers that Lori is not his wife, but an agent working for the UFB. Also, Quaid learns from self-left video messages, that his true identity is Carl (not Cole) Hauser, who at one time worked for Cohaagen, but instead decided to work with the underground resistance and its leader: Matthias, (a criminally underused Bill Nighy).

What follows are a bunch of boring action scenes with forced dialogue that the better-than-it-should-be cast has to spout. As stated, Bill Nighy makes what should be considered a brief cameo as the resistance leader, Matthias. Beyond him, Bryan Cranston has the thankless job of the main bad guy who really just makes speeches and is never threatening or villainous; especially in the final battle. The only actor who seems to be having any fun is Kate Beckinsale as the Terminator-like Lori. Her presence during her constant pursuit and ruthless assault on Melina and Quaid serves as the most entertaining portion of this film. As that is the most entertaining part, though, should show that this film doesn't offer much that hasn't already been done before.

With the exception of the location of this version (future-Earth) and the 1990 version (Mars) this really plays out as a step-by-step imitation of the original. Unfortunately, this film rushes through its sequences, so you do not even get to enjoy what changes they have made. From the disguise at a transfer area, to someone trying to "wake" Quaid up, all versions have been done much better in the Paul Verhoeven version. Len Wiseman continues to prove that he is a director who cannot provide substance and lacks what is needed to create an involving story.

I had very low expectations for this film, and Len Wiseman kindly met those expectations. The 2012 version of Total Recall is bland, boring, predictable and made me very sleepy.

You're welcome, Karina.



The Cold Light of Day

The Cold Light of Day... or as I like to call it, how Bruce Willis got a free vacation to Spain.

Will Shaw (Henry Cavill) arrives in Spain, distracted by his small business in financial trouble (which never materializes into a plot point), to meet with his family for a vacation. Will and his father Martin (Bruce Willis) do not always see eye to eye and when a small accident on Martin's boat happens, Will goes to town for medicine. Upon returning, Will finds the boat abandoned and in disarray.

Back on land, Will speaks with the local police department. The police officers go to the boat where Will meets with a man who knows what happened to Will's family and is willing to show him. Will escapes and in the process meets up with Martin.

Martin informs Will that he has been hiding his true work from Will, that he is a CIA agent (shocking, I know). Martin spits out enough plot; the people who took his family are after a briefcase that Martin took and gave to his superiors, before meeting with villain partner, Jean (Sigourney Weaver). As soon as they end their conversation, Martin exits stage left and Will goes on the run with the brief knowledge that Martin dispensed.

Along the way, Will teams up with a local, Lucia (Veronica Echegui) who holds a not too surprising secret. They are chased all throughout Madrid by various bad guys including Jean's number 1 henchman, Gorman (Joseph Mawle), before the inevitable climax where Will and Jean must face off.

I was on board with this film for about the first half hour or so. I was not watching a film that was re-inventing the wheel, but I didn't hate myself for watching it. As the second half of the film kicked in, though, the plot becomes overly complicated with various needless bad guys. This could have been a standard on the run-type film, but then with a gang of Mossad agents join the fray and the plot gets very murky. After a while, my interest in this film waned and I really didn't care anymore about the briefcase (or MacGuffin, as my dear friend Karina perfectly called it) or what happened to Will's family.

Besides the overly-complicated plot, the biggest issue with this film lies within the acting. Henry Cavill might be a star in the making with the Superman reboot scheduled to launch next year, but his performance in this film is pretty laughable. One scene in particular that made me laugh involved Will being on a bus and getting a phone call. His performance in this supposed emotion-filled scene was very wooden and I ended up laughing. Besides his lack of conveying a proper level of emotion, Henry Cavill never really invests himself into the character, except when he has to be shirtless. Sorry, but he is supposed to be the son of Bruce Willis, and when I see the son of Bruce Willis, I expect someone who can handle themselves somewhat more competently.

Speaking of Bruce Willis, he has no more than an extended cameo. As I said in the beginning, I felt Bruce Willis took this film to hang out in Spain for about a week. Bruce Willis shows up, says his lines of exposition and leaves. Beyond that, he is really there to have his face and name slapped onto the poster and trailer to help sell extra movie tickets. And judging by the box office, that didn't help much.

The other big name in the film is Sigourney Weaver. She doesn't try to hide that she is evil and just chews up her scenery. Sigourney Weaver's Jean just goes through the motions as a government agent doing all she can to "protect America" from terrorists. Sigourney Weaver sits on the other side of the fence as her performance goes over the top without any rhyme or reason as she spouts out one-liners during gunfights and  casually strolls through gunfights as if knowing she wont get hurt. Again, I think she just wanted to hang out in Spain for a while.

The Cold Light of Day is directed by Mabrouk El Mechri who directed the, much better than it should have been, JCVD. In JCVD that film had style with good performances and a solid script. Unfortunately all of those aspects are missing from this film. With the exception of some nice panoramic views of Madrid, there is nothing that El Mechri brought to this film worth seeing.

As an overall experience, this is a really bad film. The stars appeared to have taken this for a paycheck and/or a nice trip to Spain. With the talent involved, this should have been better, but from the acting to writing and to directing, this was a total losing effort. And everyone was on the same page with making this a bad film.

And what was the point of Colm Meaney?



The List: Top 5 Kurt Russell Performances

With the release of Kurt Russell's first feature length film in 5 years, Touchback, I felt it appropriate to revisit my opinion of the top 5 best performances from the greatest actor of all time (well, I exaggerate a bit, but I love this guy).

5. Captain Ron - Captain Ron, 1992

"Alright, now stay with me: When we left, we had just enough fuel to make it to San Juan. And now... we are out of fuel!"

1992's Captain Ron finds Kurt Russell at his goofiest, and that is a good thing. Martin Short and his family hire a local sailor, Captain Ron to assist with piloting a boat that they just inherited. Captain Ron is a very free and laid back character which initially does not mesh well with Martin Short's Martin Harvey character. Over time, Martin's family becomes won over by Captain Ron, even when faced with danger by guerillas or landing in Cuba.

Captain Ron is by no means an Oscar caliber film, and never tries to be. What it is, is a small and fun film with very quotable lines and a go-for-broke performance from Kurt Russell. Captain Ron seems like a dullard, but in the end, helps the Harvey family grow closer and enjoy the time they have spent together while also providing a very entertaining and likable character.

Stuntman Mike McKay - Death Proof, 2007

"I'm not a cowboy, Pam... I'm a stuntman."

Even though hyped as the main character, Stuntman Mike McKay plays a supporting character in Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. Stuntman Mike is, as his nickname says, a stuntman. When not performing stunts in films, he moonlights as a serial killer; using his car as the murder weapon.

As this is a Quentin Tarantino film, this is not an ordinary slasher film. Tarantino basically breaks the film in half: first focusing on a group of women in Texas, then jumping to a group of women in Tennessee. The female characters, as typical in a Quentin Tarantino film are strong, tough and front and center. It is only after long periods of dialogue between these groups of women does Stuntman Mike really emerge. When he does, though, you get a serial killer unlike no other.

What truly makes Stuntman Mike stand out from other serial killers is his transformation. Without going into specifics, the difference from the Stuntman Mike we get in the first half of the movie compared to the second is night and day. Though the transformation is earned due to watching Kurt Russell using his talents with Quentin Tarantino's brilliant characterization of Stuntman Mike. What starts out as a solid serial killer character turns into much more as the film progresses and Kurt Russell makes it work.

R.J. MacReady - The Thing, 1982

"Hey, Sweden!"

This might draw some ire as to why this performance is only number 3. Kurt Russell's R.J. MacReady is the least charismatic performance on the list. MacReady is a helicopter pilot of Outpost 31 for a scientific research facility in Antarctica. After a situation with a group of Swedish scientists, a parasitic alien that can perfectly imitate its host is loose upon Outpost 31. MacReady becomes the reluctant hero as him and his team try to find out who is "the thing" and survive the winter.

When we first meet MacReady, he is drinking and playing chess on a computer. He does not want to be the leader, as he says, "I just want to get up to my shack and get drunk." MacReady has no answers once "the thing" is let loose on Outpost 31. He has his doubts over who is "the thing" as do the other members of Outpost 31. MacReady is weary and tired, but still heroic. There are no heroic speeches or moments done by MacReady, just the truth. He does not know who is who.

This performance is very subtle when compared to other performances by Kurt Russell. He provides the right type of mood for the story created by John Carpenter, in their third collaboration. There is no fun to be had at Outpost 31, and MacReady knows that. He understands the situation they are in and knows that the odds are not stacked in their favor. All they can do is try to trust each other and hope to make it out alive. As reluctant heroes go, R.J. MacReady is one of the best.

Snake Plissken - Escape From New York, 1981

"Get a new president!"

Snake Plissken is one of the greatest anti-heroes in all of cinema. Teaming up with Kurt Russell for the second time, John Carpenter takes us into the then-future (1997) Manhattan Island is a fully-fortified prison. The current president's plane crashes into the island, where he is kidnapped and held hostage by the inmates of the island. With no choice, the U.S. government offers a deal to Snake Plissken to enter the island, find the president along with a top secret cassette tape and escape the island alive. This film, along with its sequel Escape From L.A. showcase what an iconic performance that Snake Plissken truly is.

Snake Plissken reluctantly takes the deal, after the police commissioner has injected Snake with microscopic explosives that will kill him in 24 hours. Once on the island, Snake meets various people along the way. Dark action and even some dark humor find their way into the film, mostly from Snake's anti-authorial behavior.

Kurt Russell and his performance are iconic from this film. Snake doesn't want to be put in the position he is. He hates it, but he does what he has to do in order to live. Snake is the face of resistance towards the government that John Carpenter was trying to convey. Kurt Russell made this role his and in the process created one of the most iconic roles in film history.

Jack Burton - Big Trouble in Little China, 1986

"Everybody relax, I'm here."

In my opinion, Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China, is the best performance from Kurt Russell. The story is too complicated to dive into completely, but Jack Burton gets involved in Chinese gangs, Asian black magic, gods, martial arts, monsters, mysticism and one-liners.

Jack Burton finds himself in San Francisco's Chinatown with his friend Wang. Wang's girlfriend is kidnapped by an Asian gang and sets off a chain of events that pulls Jack and Wang further into the dark, seedy Chinatown underworld. Teaming up with an assorted cast of characters, Jack and Wang use their physical skills along with their wits to try and escape alive with Wang's girlfriend.

Kurt Russell's performance of Jack Burton is amazing. Jack is a blowhard truck driver who in actuality is a sidekick in a hero's role. He bumbles his way through the story making mistakes left and right with Wang there to cover for him. Even with Wang saving the day throughout the film, Jack still finds a way to make a one-liner or feel like he contributed more than he did. Kurt Russell infuses the role of Jack Burton with the right amount of humor and gusto. His character doesn't understand the situation he is in, but is willing to do what it takes to get out of it.

The way Kurt Russell makes this character so fun to be with is why Jack Burton is ranked number 1 on my list. He is the best sidekick hero in all of film history and is a load of fun to watch.

Now, there are other roles that stand out to me including Eldon Perry from Dark Blue, Stephen "Bull" McCaffrey and Wyatt Earp from Tombstone. I really enjoy those roles along with the ones listed, but unfortunately with a list that only allows for 5 performances, some roles didn't make the cut. This is a list to just show my appreciation of Kurt Russell and showing off some of his best performances.

If there are some that you feel should be included, obviously feel free to post them.



It's been a while since I have put up a review for a recent film. This is what happens when Summer ends and the holiday season has yet to begin. A new film has finally graced my eyes, but it is not something I wish to have to sit through again. The piece of celluloid that entered my life has a name. And its name is V/H/S.

As this is an anthology film, I will review each segment within the film. The grade I give will be a total for the overall film.

Tape 56:

The story which opens and serves as the wraparound for the entire V/H/S film, follows a group criminals who are hired to retrieve a video tape from a house. The criminals will make a good amount of money and have to find a specific tape (the lead criminal says: "they'll know it when they see it"). During their time in the house, they find a dead man, yet don't really seem fazed by it and actually decide to individually sit in the same room with said dead man and watch various VHS tapes. Each individual begins to disappear until the leader is left. The wraparound then ends abruptly before the final segment begins. A really uninteresting story with uninteresting characters that make dumb moves. Not a great way to begin your anthology.

Amateur Night:

Possibly my least favorite story in V/H/S. 3 douchebag guys go out looking for women to sleep with. One woman acts somewhat strange, yet they bring her along with another female to their motel room for drinks, sex and debauchery. Of course, the strange woman harbors a secret and the three men find out what that is very quickly. Literally within 3 minutes of this story beginning, I already could figure out what was going to happen. The story played out as predictable as it seemed. With the exception of an interesting final shot, this film fell flat on its predictable face. Nothing new whatsoever brought to the table on this one.

Second Honeymoon:

A much more interesting story can be found with 'Second Honeymoon'. A married couple goes to the west and enjoys their time together when the wife, Stephanie, receives a fortune mentioning a loved one. That night a mysterious woman asks the husband, Sam, for a ride (a scene which is completely omitted from the film) which he denies, but is spooked by her presence. Afterwards, a mysterious figure begins entering the motel room and using their camera to spy Sam and Stephanie. This entry starts strong, which some great scenery and decent performances. Unfortunately, as with most of the stories, the ending fails what was built up to be a solid suspense story.

Tuesday the 17th:

A stab (pun definitely intended) at 80's slasher films. 4 friends go out into the woods where a killer might be lurking and waiting for them. With the exception of the killer (his abilities and him/itself, which really isn't explained) this is a very formulaic tale, much like Amateur Night. There really isn't much to say as this follows your standard "killer in the woods" story. Bland, boring and predictable.

The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger:

An interesting idea, about a man and woman chatting through Skype, wherein one person thinks their apartment is haunted. Emily contacts her boyfriend James about noises she hears in her apartment. Through their Skype conversations, supposed apparitions begin to show up. Emily is unsure what to make of the supposed apparitions while James tries to be the comforting voice. An unusual twist by one of the characters gives this an interesting idea, but again this fails to stick the ending. What drags this one down is the forced dialogue to explain what the hell is going on. Overall, this is decent but an imperfect ending keeps this from being recommended more highly.


The final story brings us a haunted house tale. 4 friends go to a house for a Halloween party but find more than they bargained for. The friends find the house empty except for brief appearances of a ghostly presence. They hear noises in the attic and find something they did not expect. V/H/S ends strongly with 10/31/98. Once the 4 friends discover what is happening, some strong visuals begin to take over the story. I was thoroughly impressed with this story through and through. Solid performances and a ramped-up sense of dread fills this story with a sense of job well done.

Overall, with high expectations put onto this film, I was really let down. All of the stories suffer by having to be about 25 minutes in length. The stories are not strong enough to be condensed into short vignettes. Some of the ideas would work better as a feature-length film while others are weak and could have probably been edited out completely.