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.
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.
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.
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.