Halloween Horror Movie Month: V/H/S (2012)

That’s why it’s usually best to get DVD’s instead.

The film more or less centers on a group of petty criminals who are hired by a mysterious third party to steal a rare VHS tape from a rundown house. But as they search for the right one, they are treated to a seemingly endless number of horrifying videos, each stranger than the last.

Here’s a great idea for a horror movie: take what is essentially the new and cool thing in horror (found-footage), mix it in with something old (anthology), and see what happens from there. It’s what you usually get from these anthology films, but it’s still a great way to remind us that found-footage films can still kick-ass, especially when they got a grainy look to them as well.

Being that this is all pretty much 5 short-films that have nothing to do with each other than being terribly freaky and featured on a VHS tape, I’m just going to go at it and give each story their own little mini-review. DTMMR readers, you are all in for a treat my friends!

1) This story is about a bunch of drunken frat guys that go out one night, go to the bars, drink it up, snort cocaine (always a good idea), pick up chicks, and try their hardest to get laid by the end of the night. You know, the schedule that I’ve been holding up everyday for the past 5 years. It’s cool because not only does this story go from hilarious to scary at the drop of a hat, but it’s all filmed by this one dude’s glasses who has the camera built into them. Shows you that the found-footage genre can still be pretty inventive when it comes to how they capture all of these crazy happenings on film, and it’s even better here, because the story gets so tense that I actually watched the last 3 minutes of it through the spaces in my hands that were covering my eyes. I’m a big baby, I know, but this was a perfect way to start off this flick and had me hoping for the best.

2) This story is about a vacationing, young couple who actually stumble upon a weird chick, asking them if she can get a ride somewhere. The story here is set-up with a very tense and strange atmosphere, but what really bummed me out is where they end up actually going with it. This ends up being one of the weaker stories in this flick not only because it takes a dumb-ass turn about half-way through, but because it features a twist that’s even dumber and comes out of nowhere. There’s an on-screen killing that I think is pretty cool, but that’s about.

3) This next story features, as you guessed it, a bunch of horny and wild teenagers that go out into the woods where a murder happened not too long before that. Typical horror shit, right? Anywhoo, this film is probably the goofiest of the bunch but it seems to have a bunch of fun with itself by playing up a lot of the conventions we have with these sort of “teenagers in the woods” stories: kids do some drugs, kids try to get laid, kids get naked, kids jump into lake while they are naked, and the horniest kids are the first ones to get “offed” because they can’t seem to control themselves. Doesn’t sound as interesting as I may make it, but it’s fun to watch and when the actual “killer” comes out, it seems pretty cool at first, but then when you think about it, makes no sense at all. Why the hell was this guy all blurred out as if he was naked on live television? I don’t know, it just looks cool.

4) This is probably the most inventively-told story of the whole bunch, as it takes place through a bunch of Skype calls, that all seem to have some deep, dark twisted meaning. This segment probably has the most tension throughout but what I didn’t like about this one is how music continued to play in the background, telling us when and where we should “freak out” at what’s happening on-screen. Silence would have been perfect for this segment, as it was for plenty of the other ones, and the eventual reveal at the end seemed a bit cheap and unbelievable. Still, I was tense throughout this one and that’s all that mattered for me.

5) Even though all of the other stories may have not been the scariest pieces of shite that I have ever seen in horror movies, let alone found-footage movies, V/H/S does a great job at keeping the best, for last. The story takes place around 1998, and follows a bunch of guys that go to a Halloween party to what they think is a haunted mansion, and well, actually ends up being just that. Literally. This is probably the most exciting and most entertaining segment in the whole film as I was laughing my ass off for a good 10 minutes or so, while the last 10 minutes, I was absolutely pissing my pants by how freakin’ scared and tense I was. There’s a great deal of tension that builds and builds and builds until the final shot, and it’s a great little piece of 20 minutes that ends this film on a high-note, rather than just a so-so note like I was expecting it to be before this one came up.

Of course, all of these other segments revolve around one big segment where these douche bags break into a house just to find one tape, which is scary but since it’s told in fragments, doesn’t really do much to excite us until the end. But other than that, this is overall a pretty scary, anthology film that’s a mixed bag (as you would expect), but overall, the nice kick in the ass that the horror genre needed, ever since the idea of Paranormal Activity 100 started running through producers minds. Call up your buddies, get in a big room, turn off the lights, turn up the volume, and be ready to be scared. I didn’t do that at all. Actually, I watched it by myself, on my computer, at 3 a.m., and I found it hard just to go from my bedroom to my bathroom in the middle of the night. It’s honestly like 5 steps, too.

Consensus: V/H/S may not always hit the scary-spot we expected from all of the hype and promotion this flick has been getting, but all of the segments will hold your interest, have you tense, and have you redeem some faith in the horror genre and show you that maybe these films can still work, given the right talent in front-of and behind the hand-held camera.



  1. The horny teens/haunted house stuff makes it sound cheesy, but from the way you describe it, yeah, I don’t want to ruin my pants. Thanks for the heads up, I’ll probably avoid this, haha…

  2. I really want to see this movie! Ever since I saw Trick’R’Treat I have been trying to watch as many horror anthologies as I can find. Since this has that found footage feel I have been especially interested because I honestly have not gotten sick of found footage style movies like everyone else seems to have. Great write up! Now I’m even more stoked to see this movie.

    • I haven’t gotten sick of them either, especially when they’re done in a horror movie style. It’s a good one, and I hope you like it. Thanks Roch!

  3. Not usually a big horror fan but warming up to the genre lately. This sounds like fun and so was the review!

  4. So pleased that somebody liked this as much as me! It’s hit and miss but at worst, you’re sitting through a 15 minute short, at best you’re absolutely bricking yourself with suspense. My favourites were the first one (succubus) and the last one (haunted house). I’d watch a V/H/S 2, definitely.

    Here’s my review, Dan, incase you missed it: http://benendsbasement.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/vhs.html

    • Thanks Ben! Checked it out already and thought we had a lot of the same points about a lot of what we see. It’s fun, but a bit tedious at times as well.

  5. I liked a few of the stories but, overall, V/H/S kinda let me down. I love the anthology format and I have nothing against found footage when it’s done correctly, but some of the stories just seemed to be wastes of possibility. I especially hated that second story about the honeymooning couple. I think it was the one directed by Ti West. Go figure.

    Nice review! I would actually like to see a sequel to this with new stories.

    • Thanks Robert! That story was probably the most lame because it was a bit strange, but ended in a way that didn’t mean anything. Ti West is still a great horror director, though.

  6. Wait… somebody took footage from a Skype conversation (modern tech) and put it on a VHS tape (outdated tech)? I mean, yeah, it’s certainly possible, but why? 😀

    Even so, it sounds like this might be a bit more of a fun movie than I was initially inclined to give it credit for. Thanks for the review, Dan.

  7. yeah I didn’t like # 2 story..dunno what the hell that was all about…but the last story..I love it…If I was watching it alone at night I might have been scared shitless

  8. Great review! I think I am in the minority of people who aren’t totally sick of found footage movies yet. I was on the fence about V/H/S, but, based on your review, I think I’m going to love it.

  9. Great review Dan. I feel the same way you do. I could have done without that second film and possibly the one with the petty criminals.

    Yeah, i didn’t think about it at the time because it’s actually one of the more terrifying ones, but Skype and VHS? and how did they record the split screen? Now it’s all falling apart.

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