'V/H/S' Blu-ray Review: Pounding Nails in Found Footage's Coffin
The new found footage anthology "V/H/S" should unite both fans and critics of the now familiar horror genre. Spend a few minutes watching the film, available now on Blu-ray and DVD, and it's hard not to slam down the remote and shout, "for the love of Pete please stop shaking the camera!'
"V/H/S" recruits some slick horror filmmakers but saddles them with a very tough gimmick as well as "scripts" inundated with F-bombs. The biggest fright involves the performances, which collectively recall the very bad emoting from '70s horror films.
The framing story finds a group of utterly despicable lads breaking into a home to steal a mysterious VHS tape. One of the character's mustaches screams totally '80s, but a clue later on pegs the period as the late 1990s. The VHS format was dying at the time, but the characters here name drop YouTube and chat on a Skype-style program, technology that didn't exist at the time.
We're nitpicking, but it beats dwelling on the stories presented here or the nonstop parade of faux videotape hiccups meant to evoke the now-dead format.
The home break in leads to five separate tales, none of which offers up enough scares to justify the found footage technique. Most feature young, maniacally annoying young characters who can't say two syllables without inserting the word "fuck" before or after them. "Deadwood's" Al Swearengen couldn't hang with this crew.
The standout shocker is "10/31/98" from the collective ensemble Radio Silence which delivers some creepy visuals and a palpable sense of dread. Some alcohol-obsessed teens arrive at an abandoned house expecting to party, but they discover some mysterious goings on in the building's upper floor.
Ti West, the smart auteur behind "The Innkeepers," simply needs more time to expand his short story about a young couple going through the romantic motions while on a doomed vacation.
We've come to accept the absurdity of people in peril clinging to their video cameras despite being in mortal danger. What "V/H/S" fails to give us is a good reason to suspend our disbelief.
The Blu-ray extras include plenty of director commentaries, an alternate ending to "10/31/98," wecam interviews with the principals behind the Skype-like segment, additional footage from "Tuesday the 17th and a behind the scenes photo gallery.