Horror Thursday, Reviews — December 13, 2012 at 3:00 am



I often don’t get to review horror movies in theaters (thanks to the future wife, who doesn’t like horror movies). But this time I made an exception because I been wanting to see this fucking movie FOREVER! It’s a found footage movie AND an anthology film?! Two of my favorite sub-genres!

So what’s V/H/S? Here’s the basic set up. There’s a group of four guys who I don’t think even had names. They like filming themselves destroying property and going up to random girls, ripping their shirts off, exposing their tits. Apparently they sell the tit footage for money. One guy, who’ll I’ll just call The ‘Stache, tells the guys he got a job offer to sneak into some old guys house and find a videotape. Since it’ll pay well, they agree to do it.

Upon arriving at the house, they find the old guy is dead and a shit ton of videotapes. While looking around, one guy decides to watch one tape.


This was an interesting story because the footage comes from those spy glasses that look like regular eyeglasses. I guess these guys used it to be worn while fucking a girl. Anyway, the guy wearing them reminded me of Ben Folds. Like…a lot! Anyway, the beginning of this story (and the beginning of every story really) is typical found footage stuff with the guys acting like douchebags and going to clubs, picking up women. At one club, Ben Folds meets a very strange girl who I think I would find attractive if she didn’t act so damn creepy.

Anyway, the guys take Creepy chick and another hot chick back to their hotel room and one guy tries to score with the hot chick but she passes out. Only because two other guys are in the room with him, he pretends to have honor and not do anything else but you know if it was just him and her he would hit that shit. Anyway, he moves on to the creepy chick and she gets into it, wanting to have a three-way. But then things get….interesting.

SPOILER ALERT FOR THIS STORY: ……. the creepy girl is actually some, I guess, dragon lady? (Turns out she’s a succubus. I didn’t pick up on this while I was watching it.) I’m assuming? She suddenly gets all scaly and starts munching on the other two dudes. She seems to really love Ben Folds, but he’s too creeped out to love her back, or at least pretend to love her back, so this pisses her off and she drags him off into the night. The end.


Two of the most white boring people on the face of the planet decide to take a vacation to the Grand Canyon. They get a hotel room, mess with the camera for a bit, go to one of those gimmicky psychic boxes like in Big (which was referenced in the movie) and gets a fortune but that doesn’t go anywhere. And then things get creepy.

While both people are sleeping, a mysterious person picks up the camera and watches them sleep. I gotta tell you, I find shit like this creepy and it got to me. The person just rubs up on both people, then they stick the guys toothbrush in the toilet.

SPOILER ALERT FOR TAPE #2:…. the mysterious person was the wife’s lesbian lover? And they kill the husband? Ok, this is the story I had the most problem with. One, it’s not explained how the lover got into the hotel room when they clearly showed her locking the door. Two, where the fuck did this come from? They didn’t build on this at all. They both seemed happy, even if they were both bland. I dunno, this was the one story I wasn’t a fan of.


I don’t really know how to set this up. Take any random horror movie that happens in the woods, but have a pretty creepy killer. Oh and one of the hot girls is in on the whole thing. Spoiler? Maybe. I can’t explain this one but I did like what they did with it. I could say this is the movie version of the popular online game “Slender”. Y’know, anytime Slender shows up the screen gets all crazy and when he’s near, things get intense. I love someone made a movie version of this. Although it’s probably a good thing they didn’t turn this story into an hour and a half cause it could get annoying, but here it was just right.


(Apparently I was wrong about this whole god damn story. I haven’t seen it a second time yet but I stand by my assumption that I make in the next paragraph.)

The ending to this story made no sense to me. I will talk about it, but here’s the set up. The entire footage is from a Skype session. A dude is talking to his girlfriend over the internet and she keeps telling him she’s hearing weird shit at night and things keep happening to her. The guy doesn’t believe her at first until he clearly sees a ghost child run through. The girl has a weird thing in her arm and she keeps wanting to dig into it. Anyway, one night she decides to confront the ghosts but then…

SPOILER ALERT FOR TAPE #4: …….the boyfriend is in on it? And he’s helping the ghost kids? By giving them the girls unborn child? I didn’t really understand it. But that’s what happens.

So at this point I thought it was over. Four stories is surely enough. And in between each tape, we get the four guys running around the house and somewhat creepy things are happening in the back.

SPOILER ALERT FOR THE STUFF IN BETWEEN…… the old guy isn’t really dead. He might be a zombie. Maybe. But he kills all the guys. And just when I thought it was over, we get one more tape, somehow.


Not that Halloween. Anyway, ANOTHER group of guys all get ready to go to a Halloween party at some old house. They arrive at the house and find it’s empty. Ghosts show up now and then, but then they hear weird chanting up in the attic. They go up to investigate and find a ritual is taking place, complete with a sacrifice. The guys go save the girl being sacrificed but then….

SPOILER ALERT FOR TAPE #5…..some evil force shows up and starts eating random people. Soon, the house suddenly comes alive, complete with disembodied hands popping out of the walls. They manage to escape the house with the girl but the evil force follows them, trapping them in their car and hey look they stopped on some train tracks…

And that’s it. I loved the ending credits done in the style of an old VHS camera. Overall, I really did enjoy this movie. It was refreshing to watch a horror movie that wasn’t watered down or “safe”. All the filmmakers involved with this movie just went for it and the pay off was excellent. There’s a lot of scares, some tension, and of course lots of tits. I was really happy with the overall outcome. The only complaints I had was a couple of the stories didn’t make sense, there were some minor plot holes, and it did start to feel a bit TOO long since the start of each tape was your typical found footage set up, which normally takes up half the movie, but here it took up half the story. The only one that went quickly was the one in the woods, which is probably my favorite story out of all of them, despite them not showing any tits.

If you love GOOD horror, check it out!



Tags anthologyfound footageV/H/S


  • (Except this isn’t good horror…)

    • I really don’t understand the hate you have for this movie. I mean yeah it has its problems but the overall experience was awesome and is such an awesome idea. I can’t wait for the sequel!

    • Yeah, sorry– it is. This is far, far superior to most of the studio-produced garbage that passes as “horror” these days (whether it’s Sinister or Paranormal Activity) if only because it uses the found footage conceit effectively (for the most part). This is also acknowledging that the honeymoon and slasher-in-the-woods segments are fucking horrible; nothing happens in the former until the end, which is terribly telegraphed, and the latter is incomprehensible beyond the basics (hero girl uses her friends as fodder to kill magical slasher guy).

      But everything else here is gold. The Skype segment and Demon Girl segment both figure out how to use found footage in clever ways that serve the story and make sense. The least sensible thing about the whole movie, of course, is how these segments wound up on VHS tapes in the creepy house of evil, but if you’re focusing on that sort of thing, you’re engaging horror in wrong-headed ways.

      What’s great about the best vignettes is how they build up, and how that build up is done so well as to defeat predictability. You KNOW there’s something not quite right with Lilli in the first segment, but Bruckner teases everything out so well that the ultimate reveal has huge, frightening impact. Meanwhile, Swanberg uses his dark sense of humor to pepper the haunted apartment segment to similar effect. V/H/S is all about smart technique and approach and how both can be used to take stock narratives and make them really, truly terrifying. It boggles my mind that there’s any backlash against this at all, and that’s again acknowledging how much Ti West and Glenn McQuaid suck.

      • The last two are the only good ones (Skype and Possessed Girl), though I still don’t see how the Skype session ended up on VHS in the first place, regardless of where the VHS tape ended up.

        The first one (Succubus Girl) is terrible and, I shall disagree with you, does not build up any kind of tension. They’re a bunch of moronic douchebags who you know are gonna die. And they do. And you know whose gonna kill ‘em. And she does. What would have helped was likable characters. However, I didn’t care about any of the characters and, therefore, didn’t care about the segment itself.

        The second one (Ti West’s) was, as you said, just kinda dull up until the end. The third (Jason Vorhees: The Static Killer) had an interesting idea, but it was so short and executed so poorly that it didn’t matter.

        The Skype session had good characters, a good idea, and a good execution. Like I said, its only real flaw is why the hell is it on a VHS tape?

        The Possessed Girl one has the best characters, the best concept, and the best execution. I actually cared about these guys and didn’t want anything to happen to them. The idea of how the found footage style was used was ingenious. And the twist at the end was really cool.

        And don’t get me started on the framing story which was the worst of the bunch. Terrible characters, idiotic concept, and lame resolution (and as it’s what ties the film together, the film ultimately suffers because of it).

        To me, when you have a 2-hour movie (which is WAY too long for this film) with 6 stories and only 2 of them are good… no matter how good they are, that does not make the film one of the best horror movies of recent years. It doesn’t even make it a success. That’s pretty much a failure. Even if I give you a third short, that’s still only half the movie that’s any good which still doesn’t make the film all that great.

        All of that being said, I didn’t hate the movie. I thought it was over-long and overly average. What I don’t understand is how this film gets so much love and hype when most people agree, even the ones who praise it, that at least half (if not more) of the film blows pretty hard. It’s full of terrible character and under-developed stories (again, with the exception of the last two).

        I just don’t get it.

        • Most of what you’re complaining about goes to the root of why we watch horror films, though, and I think that’s a huge part of why it’s been so well-received on the festival circuit. Horror is very often about us cheering the evil that’s lurking around the corner; we root for monsters and killers frequently in horror, entirely because the people they target are, well, kind of horrible. The wraparound device is pretty undercooked, but it’s also pretty standard– people transgress, people die. It’s the concept Cabin in the Woods chewed over so thoroughly early on this year, and it’s one of several primary reasons why horror is effective. It’s a primal appreciation– you don’t come to something like V/H/S for Exorcist-esque character development and storytelling. You come for tension and visceral thrills and supernatural justice.

          Part of what engages us with this stuff is, of course, character, but sometimes we’re just there to watch thin characters (read: date rapists and misogynists) catch a bad one at the hands of some otherworldly or otherwise sinister and fatal threat. On the other hand, you have the characters in the Radio Silence and Skype segments, who do receive some decent characterization (though the friends in the former are really just a bunch of dudebros who happen to have a sense of group decency), and Clint, the “narrator” of the first bit and who– I think– happens to be one of the most well-developed characters in the entire lot. I certainly cared about his dilemma more than anyone else’s. At the same time I didn’t feel any sympathy when his friends wound up being killed; they’re pretty horrible. But they’re there to serve as fodder, much as the kids in, say, a Friday the 13th movie exist just so Jason can kill them in terrible, inventive ways.

          West’s bit is the worst offender because it doesn’t even have a good idea. McQuaid has a really nifty idea, he just bungles the execution. It’s an idea that I’d like to see put into an actual movie and handled smartly, because it’s distinctly cinematic and very cool. But all of the other bits DO have pretty good ideas, so it’s hard to begrudge them on scales of imagination.

          • Troll 2 has great imagination, but that doesn’t stop it from being a terrible (albeit enjoyable) movie.

            I can somewhat agree with you that there are those certain types of horror films that have bad things happening to bad people. And sometimes that’s handled well. I just don’t feel this is one of those cases. And if we have to follow assholes the whole time, I want them to be at least interesting assholes, not your run-of-the-mill douchebags found in every other horror movie.

            Which brings me to another point–how is this better or more original than any other modern horror film if, even by your argument, it does what every other horror movie does? It doesn’t really bring any new ideas (again, except those last two segments), and most of the characters, even by your argument, are often just as flat if not flatter and less enjoyable than a full horror movie (as these don’t have the pleasure of building themselves up over time)? And you still have yet to respond to my counter-argument (which bases itself on my, your, and other’s comments) of “At most, only half the movie is good.”

            I know it’s not just me who feels this way, either, and I still don’t really “get it.” But I think I just prefer a little character with my horror. Not even fully developed characters… just *something*. A little flavor. And this movie doesn’t really deliver that on the whole.

            I will give anyone that this is a decent film. But I really don’t understand the “one of the best/most original modern horror films” arguments. I just don’t see it.

          • Troll 2 has great imagination like I have washboard abs. I mean, I like it in the way you like a movie like Troll 2, but “imaginative” isn’t a word that comes to mind when discussing it. Maybe that’s just because I haven’t discussed it enough.

            I’m also not really claiming originality here– just that V/H/S is a better horror film than most of what passes as horror, especially the stuff that gets output by the studio system. You’ll often find people claiming X is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and it’s rare that any of their supporting arguments hold much merit. (That said: Cabin in the Woods is the greatest thing since sliced bread.) I’ll take this over a Paranormal Same Movie As the Last One any day of the week. I’ll certainly take it over trifle like Chernobyl Diaries and The Apparition. But yes, now that you mention it, I do think V/H/S is original despite playing into horror tropes– because playing into horror tropes doesn’t mean your movie isn’t original. Hell, [REC] is super-duper derivative and it’s still awesome, as are its sequels.

            But that’s because “originality” doesn’t have anything to do with eschewing derivation but rather tweaking the standard to refresh it. In any other horror story, Lilli would just be out for blood. Turns out she actually really means it when she tells Clint she likes him; he’s just too shit-terrified to return her affections or, uh, rise to the occasion. (Not that I blame him. His friends are terrible chums and worse human beings, but I don’t know that I’d be in the mood for smoldering hot demon sex after watching a dude get his junk ripped off.) And Skype Boyfriend isn’t just “in” on the whole story in his girlfriend’s apartment, he’s the architect of the whole alien experimentation. Again, place that in another movie and he’s probably just the Justin Long character watching in horror from the sidelines. Each of these segments presents something very traditional in horror and tweaks it ever so much to make it new, which is something that can’t be said for a lot of contemporary horror.

            Answering your question– “half” the movie is being kinda liberal. Three segments out of five are really great, one of those segments fails through execution but not for lack of inventiveness, and the other one is really, truly, irredeemably awful. I have a hard time considering the wraparound device as an actual segment, mostly because its moments are fleeting and it’s really just there so that we have a reason to be watching these tapes in the first place. Without it, we’d have no movie. So I’d say that more of the movie is high quality than not, especially since– as far as I can recall– the Bruckner, Swanberg, and Radio Silence segments are slightly beefier than the rest. (Though West’s feels like it goes on forever.) More to the point, I don’t mind sitting through the lows because the highs are so much higher.

          • Dude, Andrew… it’s OK. You can admit you’re wrong. I won’t hold it against you. :P

          • Oh, I’ll admit I’m wrong– when I’m actually wrong.

  • This was certainly one of my favorite horror movies this year. **This comment is spoilery**

    I do actually really like the Honeymoon segment though. I thought the husband was a dick to her the whole time so while the ending was a bit out of nowhere, I get why she turned on him. Also, the fortune they get is foreshadowing the ending. Obviously, this storyline could get much more fleshed out and the ending is maybe a twist for shock value but I dug it anyway. I agree the dark scenes with the girl walking around the room were super creepy.

    The last segment in the haunted (or whatever) house was the best though. The effects were cool and it was the most exciting of the bunch.

    • My problem with the West segment is that it’s boring. Nothing scary happens at all until the first room invasion, and even that’s kind of a breeze because there’s little question who’s holding the camera even before the “reveal” is pulled.

      West’s tendency with his films is to just do nothing for the bulk of their run times and then pull out scary stuff at the end. In the case of the honeymoon segment, there’s nothing scary going on at all until the end, and the big moment isn’t scary– just bloody. (I’ll give him credit for staging one of the most brutal on-screen kills of the year, I guess.)

      • See I really enjoyed West’s films House of the Devil and The Innkeepers (not as much but enough). I like the slow burn building up to the last minute crazy shit at the end. I loved just spending time with Jocelin Donahue and Sara Paxton’s characters. I can see why others could just be bored by it though.

        • See, that’s why I loved The Innkeepers– West filled all the air with really fun interactions between really wonderful characters. If he did that in every movie before kicking the horror into high gear at the end, I’d like him more.