I am always looking for a new horror movie to watch, and more than one friend has told me to watch V/H/S. The movie is made by a “who’s who” of Indie horror makers, including Ti West (The House of the Dead and The Innkeepers</em
>) and received great praise from festivalgoers. It hasn’t been released to theaters yet (it will be in limited release October 5), but I found it On Demand through my cable provider. The movie is about a group of criminals who record their various shenanigans. They are hired by an unknown proprietor to retrieve a VHS tape in what seems like an abandoned house. To their dismay, they find a pile of unlabeled tapes, but that’s not all they find.
When they enter the house, the group finds what appears to be a dead body, a supply of televisions and unlabeled tapes. They take all the tapes and begin to watch them in an attempt to find the rare tape they were hired to get.
Each one of these tapes has a different story on it that has nothing to do with the main characters, or the other stories themselves. Simply put, there is no connection and nothing within the stories ties together in the end.
The first story is called “Amateur Night,” and tells the tale of a night out with three friends gone terribly wrong. Clint, Shane and Patrick rent a room and go out to the bars with the intent to pick up women and bring them back to the room for sex. One of the girls they bring back, Lily, is acting a little weird, but they figure it’s because she’s drunk and high (this is not the reason). They get more than they bargain for in the end.
The next short is called “Second Honeymoon.” It follows a couple, Sam and Stephanie, who go on a road trip as a second honeymoon. While in their hotel, a girl comes to the door to ask for a ride, but Sam refuses. From there, strange things start happening. This was one of the weaker shorts in the movie.
“Tuesday the 17th” is another weak short in the movie. Four friends: Wendy, Joey, Spider and Samantha, visit a lake in Wendy’s hometown for a relaxing weekend. Sound like a familiar plot? The only small detail that changes the plot up a little bit is that *spoiler* Wendy brought them there for a purpose. She has a dark history at that lake and wants to close that chapter of her life.
“The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger” had so much potential, but left me asking more questions than answering them. Emily is a college student who is in a long distance relationship with her boyfriend, James. Weird things start happening around Emily’s apartment and she’s convinced it’s haunted. The climax of the story is when Emily decides to try to communicate with the spirits with the help of her boyfriend via webcam. She carries the computer around with her eyes closed and asks James to tell her when he sees someone. If you don’t go “WTF” at the end of this short, then please get a hold of me and explain it to me, because even after some research on this, I’m still confused.
The final short story, “10/31/98,” takes place on Halloween night when a group of friends head to a Halloween party. When they arrive to the house, it’s empty, but they hear noises and see strange things, like *possible spoiler* hands reaching out of the wall. The group is convinced it’s part of a haunted house that the party hosts set up for fun. When they enter the attic in the middle of what looks like an exorcism, they quickly learn that this is no joke. I think this was a strong end to the short stories in the film.
So, what happens to the criminals who have entered the empty house? Well for one, the house is not all that empty, and this is a heist that they won’t ever live down. Do I mean that literally or am I just trying to be clever? Whether you catch this in the theaters, or order from your cable provider, this is a movie worth seeing. I am not usually a fan of the found footage movies (there’s only so many shadow tricks you can do), but with this film, it’s a home run, even with the weaker short stories.