In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb large ouygaatyh4jzithj6fi3uyf31ri

Wonder

You’ll shed a tear or two—especially if you’re a parent—and they’ll be totally earned.

Thumb mv5bztg3yteznjytzty2ns00yjnmltlhnjutzti2m2e5ndi4m2njxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymzi3mdezmzm . v1 sy1000 cr0 0 675 1000 al

Mudbound

The film invites us to observe its characters, to hear their inner voices, to see what they see and to challenge our own preconceived notions…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Chaz's Journal Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

V/H/S

V/H/S Movie Review
  |  

In 1999, a film publicist named Jeff Dowd sidled over to me at the Salt Lake City airport and gave me my first tout that year for a Sundance entry. "See 'The Blair Witch Project,' " he said. "I'm not even working for it, and I'm telling you this." I saw it, and when it opened in July of that year, I gave it a four-star rating.

Maybe it deserved it. No force on Earth could compel me to go back and see it again. It had an effective sense of accumulating horror. I liked it at the time. Since then, I've grown weary of the genre it inspired, the found-footage horror film. In this genre we are given low-quality home video footage, usually underlit, lacking in pacing and intentionally hard to comprehend. The premise is that the footage was taken before some unspeakable event occurred, was discovered later and now is in the film we are watching.

Advertisement

"Paranormal Activity" is the best subsequent example of a found-footage film. "V/H/S" is an example of the genre at its least compelling. It's an anthology of six separate horror stories shot in low-definition VHS. The first, "Tape 56," explains the other five. A group of masked intruders break into a house on a mission to retrieve certain videotapes. After routine haunted-house scares, they come upon the house's owner, sitting dead and decomposing in front of a wall of video monitors.

While one of the group stays to look at some of the video, the others explore the house and make more unsettling discoveries. The overall film consists of this linking film and five other stories, each with a different director and different casts — with slight overlapping of actors.

Do you want to hear the five stories? Better you should make sense of them yourself. One of the pleasures or punishments of the film is that we're not always sure when we have left one story and entered another.

The idea, I gather, is that "V/H/S" is sort of a showcase for its young directors and actors. Since it's such a muddle, I don't understand how any of them hope to stand out. It plays more like a student project in which several short films were cobbled together in the popular found-footage horror genre to masquerade as a feature.

What's the point? None of the segments is particularly compelling. Strung together, it's way too much of a muchness. These ambitious young artists might be better advised to make what I naively call a "real movie." For example, Ti West, one of the six directors, has already released "The Innkeepers," a well-made and effective haunted hotel movie that exhibited a real gift for framing and placement; it created some genuine scares out of what he showed and didn't show. I'd bet on a guy like that. If he showed me "V/H/S," I'd hedge my bet.

Advertisement

Popular Blog Posts

Why I Stopped Watching Woody Allen Movies

Stop watching movies made by assholes. It'll be OK.

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

“Call of Duty” and “Wolfenstein” Redefine the Modern WWII Game

A review of two of the biggest games of 2017, a pair that use World War II in very different ways.

The Messy Women of "Thor: Ragnarok"

Hela and Valkyrie are unusual for Marvel and blockbuster movies in general. Both are messy, complicated figures not n...

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus