Tuesday, January 15, 2013

V/H/S (or... More bitching about Ti West)


So the horror community is going gaga over this movie and I decided I needed to see at least one of the vignettes in this anthology film. So I went home on Saturday night and popped this up on my Netflix streaming video. Settling down… giving it an opportunity… and let’s start the ball rolling.

First, each of the vignettes have two things very much in common… first, they are all shot with a sort of hand-held camera, providing a “first person” view of events. Second, the underlying theme beneath each of these stories is “betrayal”… every story tends to cope with a betrayal of some sort, either direct or something beneath the surface of every situation. The shaky cam effect is a little hard to get used to, but the underlying theme is kind of neat when looking back on the film as a whole.

The first story deals with a trio of men out for a night on the town… the lead character is, essentially, the audience. The shy, somewhat good hearted guy is fitted with a pair of video glasses so the group can look back on the night. He isn’t entirely comfortable with the activities or the glasses, but the voyeuristic streak keeps us in line throughout the story where he meets “Lilly” and the three men bring her and another girl back to their hotel room. Lilly seems a sweet, uncomfortable, and slightly uncertain young girl who constantly looks to the lead character and stares into his eyes with a whisper, “I like you.” She tells him this one statement a number of times… and things turn out far differently than is expected for all three men.

Director Ti West brings us the second and weakest story of the bunch when we follow a young couple out for their Second Honeymoon. The wife records most of their activity and there’s plenty to foreshadow what’s to come, but the ending fell far flat for me and I am personally kind of irked that Ti West is seen as some sort of a savior to the Horror Genre by so many “fans”.

Some kids head out for a weekend in the woods in the next vignette. They are stalked by a slasher-killer of some manner. It’s an interesting if ultimately eventless piece with an cool monster sort of caught on film. I get the feeling I’ve seen one of the young actors some place before, but I honestly can’t remember where from… it’s going to haunt me, I’m fairly sure. I’ll have to look it up. Ah well.

Next we have a film that sort of breaks the theme of shooting on first person when we watch a video chat between a guy and his girlfriend over the course of a number of weeks. It’s a fairly creepy story, though… I enjoyed the ending and thought this story, at least, did more with the time it had than most of the other pieces so far.

The fourth film in the anthology was probably my favorite… it wasn’t anything amazing, but more the story of a group of buddies who may have taken a wrong turn somewhere and wound up in a haunted house on Halloween night. This one is definitely twisted and had one of the better reasons for someone to be shooting the whole thing from the first person point of view… specifically, he’s wearing a “nanny-cam” bear suit. I found it funny and a little more plausible than some of the people who were running around with cameras.

Bookending each of the stories is a vignette that runs through the whole of the piece… a group of thuggish friends are hired to break in and steal a v/h/s from an old dilapidated house. When they get there they find the elderly tenant dead in front of a number of monitors and VCR players with a pile of VHS movies on the floor. Each vignette comes from one of these tapes, watched by one member of the group after another.

Over all, I thought the premise was interesting and the execution delivered well enough. The film was an interesting experiment where some of the shorts worked far better than others, but the over-all effect made for a decent enough film. Some of the stories lacked a concrete ending, leaving things up in the air for a number of the stories. “Amateur Night” and “Lake in the Woods” both seemed to have far more story to them than was allowed with the time constraints, but the bookend and the “Skype”-ish story seemed complete enough on their own.  I still don’t see what all the hype is behind Ti West and I thought his vignette was the weakest of the bunch.  I’m kind of looking forward to the films sequel currently in the works.

4.5 out of 5.

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