Found footage horror, V/H/S has completely revitalised a played-out, repetitive style of filmmaking with six chilling anthology tales. Ti West (House of The Devil), Glenn McQuaid ((I Sell The Dead) and Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way To Die) are just three of the directors to contribute to this chilling anthology.
V/H/S opens with a group of criminals assaulting young women and vandalising property. They are hired by an anonymous client to break into an abandoned house and obtain a mysterious video tape. The group begin to work their way through a series of terrifying tapes, each revealing a different short film.
V/H/S manages to fuse so many horror sub-genres together in an innovative and chilling manner, capturing all that fans love in the genre. However, this is not clear from the shaky onset, where teenagers victimise young women, whilst filmed on a handheld camera – it was a struggle to engage with this. As these young men break into the abandoned house and the horror starts, director, Adam Wingard completely pulls it together. This over-arching story is just as tense and disturbing as any of the segments that it flawlessly seems together.
The first segment from David Bruckner (The Signal) entitled Amateur Night follows three college freshmen with video recording spy glasses, hoping to pick up some easy girls and make a sex tape. However, one of the girls who has been brought back’s behaviour is a little troubling. This chilling short film is thoroughly well developed, with some completely unexpected and unsettling gory twists.
This is followed by Ti West’s Second Honeymoon, a tale of a loving couple staying at an isolated Texas motel whilst on vacation. However, when a creepy young woman starts banging on the door things take a shocking turn. West’s short tackles the idea of home invasion, with the intruder filming the sleeping victims on their own handheld camera, showcasing a disturbing twist on handheld camera norms.
The third short, Glenn McQuaid’s Tuesday The 17th follows four teens venturing into the woods, where gruesome murders previously took place. This may read like the traditional Friday The 13th teens in the wood style slasher, but McQuaid’s killer is created with a completely innovative twist.
Joe Swanberg’s The Strange Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger proves to well-crafted, suspenseful ride. Swanberg’s tale follows the Skype conversations of a couple, terrorised by ghosts. As a viewer we are thrust into dark, grainy rooms left to scan for the source of terror.
My personal favourite segment, 10/31/98 by collaborative group called Radio Silence proves to be a spectacularly crafted and completely unsettling piece of filmmaking. It follows four men looking for a Halloween party – they end up at a creaky old house with some macabre practices going on in the attic. Radio Silence allow the house to completely come alive, with walls moving and doors disappearing – it is a true visual feast of terror, fusing elements of The Amityville Horror with Rosemary’s Baby.
V/H/S is a sure fire treat for horror fans, bringing a much needed spark of energy to the handheld camera style of filmmaking. Each segment is flawlessly crafted and diverse enough to maintain your interest for the near two hour run time. I would go as far to say that it is the strongest horror film of 2012.