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V/H/S is the latest, well at the time at least, found footage horror anthology. Being an anthology film, it's quite difficult to summarise the plot down into a single paragraph. Instead, I shall begin by going through the film as a whole and then give a short review of each individual short film. So, as a whole this film is scattered, but that's the penalty of making an anthology film. Sometimes you just gotta suck that up and play along because there's no escaping it. This film does just that. It's all over the place, using different styles of filmmaking, varying special effects quality and a plot about a bunch of guys watching a VHS tape that is rushed, confusing and nauseating to watch. Thankfully, V/H/S never feels its runtime. It doesn't feel like a feature film, which can be both a good and bad thing. It feels like a short film festival, which I've attended quite a few of and so I'm used to what they're like. Too bad not all the shorts live up to the standards of the previous one, but at least that gives me something to talk about.
The first short film, Amateur Night, is a strong start to the overall anthology. In fact, it ended up being my second favourite short, although there was unfortunately only three shots that I really enjoyed. It's able to maintain tension for its entire visit, opening incredibly sexy and then quickly escalating to a disturbing, violent and creepy level, especially thanks to a rather traumatising performance from Hannah Fierman. It's a short that's difficult not to be intrigued by.
The second short film, Second Honeymoon, is not so amazing. It's a couple out on holiday recording what is essentially a video diary, resulting in nothing scary being filmed. The filmmaker does try to make it creepy, which I can at least give them credit for. For some unexplained reason the "tormentor" likes the record his visitations on their camera, allowing the audience to see it too. This causes for a good moment of suspense, but nothing else after that.
The third short film, Tuesday the 17th, has a lot more going for it than some of the other films. While I didn't exactly enjoy it, per say, I did like what they were trying to do. Technologically speaking, this film should be crowned the winner. Its effects, editing and camera work are probably the best out of all five shorts. They just can't sustain any tension or scares and the dialogue gets to a point where it's laughable. What a title though.
The fourth short film, The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger, is when the film starts to pick up a little bit. We've had close to an hour of mediocreness, but this is redeemed with a short that can be incredibly scary, highly inventive and always interesting. If only the ending was as good as the set up. And once again, what a title this short film's got.
The fifth and final short film, 10/31/98, is easily the best short film of the lot. It starts out with a few unoriginal scares and a by the numbers plot line, but once things get going they really get going. It's creative, creepy and unpredictable, fully utilising the haunted house/demon summoning storyline and featuring an ending that's quite a way to go out.
To sum up, V/H/S is a very scattershot horror film, but this is expected with anthology films. Three of the shorts are fun, scary, creative and investing, whereas the other two shorts are dull, slow and, well, not scary.