V/H/S is an American Horror Anthology, that takes its basis from the found footage genre. With five unconnected stories strung together by another for a total of six stories. Each story is written and directed by different people with the exception of the last entry 10/31/98 as it was written and directed by the quartet of filmmakers Radio Silence. I’ll be honest in that I’m not a very big fan of Horror anthologies, with few notable exceptions this being one of them. But conversely I’m a fan of found footage films, dating all the way back to Blair Witch Project. So I went into V/H/S with mixed expectations and came out pleasantly surprised.
The plot of the films stories are very simple and linear because it’s an anthology film. The first story that breaks up and help weave the other stories together is Tape 56 where a group of men are hired to break into a home to steal a rare VHS tape for a third-party. They find a room that has a dead man sitting in front of a TV with stacks of VHS tapes, so the group starts to watch the tapes in an attempt to find the tape they need to steal. Each tale to follow is one of the tapes that they are watching.
The first tape, Amateur Night is about a group of young men out on the town with a pair of glasses with a hidden camera in them. They look for women to take back to their hotel to shoot an amateur porn without the knowledge of women. But one of the girls they pick up is more than she originally seems.
The next tape is Second Honeymoon where a guy and his wife are on a vacation. But a strange woman makes it a vacation that they won’t ever forget.
After that is Tuesday the 17th, where a group of young adults go on a camping trip into the woods, recording the experience via hand-cam. One of the characters Wendy leads the group with an ulterior motive. She and a group of her friends were attacked here the year prior and she’s the only survivor and plans to use the others as bait to get her revenge.
Following that is A Sick Thing Happened to Wendy When She Was Younger. A young woman and her boyfriend video chat and she tells him she thinks her apartment is haunted by the ghost of children, but according to her landlord no children never lived there. Over the course of the their conversations she become increasing agitated. Leading to her boyfriend making a horrifying revelation.
And lastly is 10/31/98, on Halloween a group of guys, one of whom is dressed as a teddy bear complete with a nanny cam are trying to find a party. They end up at the wrong house and come upon a group of men preparing to sacrifice a girl. The men free her and escape the house, only to learn she might not be what she appears.
Now first I have to say I agree with some critics where this film feels it runs a bit long and could have really benefited with one of the stories being cut and placed into the DVD extras. The only story that don’t enjoy on repeated viewing of this film is the Second Honeymoon. While good it feels weak compared to the others and while the others have to do with the supernatural mostly this one is incredibly mundane, making it stick out to me.
The films strongest story for me is most defiantly Tuesday the 17th, as I’m a huge fan of the slasher genre. It’s able to maintain the essence of the slasher while compressing itself down for time. I think part at least of why I enjoy is how familiar it feels, while at the same it never feels old or tired. The next most notable is Amateur Night, as the pacing and reveal work incredibly with my third favorite being 10/31/98.
My main issue with this film is what should be a small one and that’s none of these really feel like they should be on a VHS tape. With some of them being filmed in different mediums, so I can’t see why someone would put them onto a VHS tape to begin with. I don’t know why this bugs me so much, but it does to the point where I find myself thinking about that over paying attention to the film. While this wasn’t something that occurred to me until later viewings, it’s glaring now that it’s been noticed.
So final thoughts? Overall, I really like this film and readily recommend it to fan of anthologies or found footage films. I find that many times found footage films can come off as lazy, poorly made or not very thought out. While this one does suffer from all these for brief periods of time, the enjoyability far out weighs the cons. So V/H/S is given more than a pass, But a strong recommendation even if it’s still lacking at points, 7/10.