V/H/S by directors Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg & Radio Silence
Magnet Releasing & The Collective in association with Bloody Disgusting
Presents A Magnet Release
Before diving into a structural analysis of V/H/S, I have one thing I would like to say about this film: pure genius. I walked into the screening room unsure what I had got myself into but knew from the type of recommendations and buzz it had gathered that a film shot with a multitide of 90′s era VHS cameras could pull off something that no other film has. They have created the most intricate system of found footage edits in a cohesive display of twisting and menacing stories that have little to do with each other in plot line but everything to do with each other in pure carnage. I had heard news of the film from festival premier reviews and particular the level in which critics were shocked by what they saw. Little did I know I would be experiencing a film that has the merit and achievements to redefine the perception of modern horror films. Directed by a multitude of top genre filmmakers (Adam Wingard, David Buckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg & Radio Silence), V/H/S is a surreal avenue down the world of POV found footage horror films and stops at nothing to capture some of the most raw moments in film history. It is cleverly broken into anthologies that intersect between the main story line of four thugs whose auspicious and delinquent actions to retreat a rare tape draw them into a situation unlike anything I have seen. It’s easily one of the creepiest films I have watched in the last few years and retains a refreshing balance between innovation and classic horror film foundations. Slated to launch in theatres on October 5th and On Demand August 30th, this will surely entertain a large crowd of people in the world who love to take their film experiences in the horror genre to the extreme.
The anthologies are introduced one by one as each of the four men in the house pop in a V/H/S into the many players that rest in a room with a dead man rotting away on a chair. In an attempt to locate the rare tape they were sent their to retrieve, the fabric and volatile texture of each story reflects a slightly different avenue into the horror film world, all of which are connected by pure bloody mayhem, sexual pretenses and plot turns that are entirely unique to this film. This isn’t a movie where you follow one entity and a resolve occurs, this is an exercise into psychological deviations of the sick and twisted and how evil things can really get. The scope of each segment involves a lot of carnage and isn’t for the easily disturbed. The anthology concept was created by co-founder and editor-in-chief of Bloody Disgusting Brad Miska with director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett taking on the vision for what the main story line “Tape 56″ shapes into. Five stories unfold inside and outside of “Tape 56″ and showcase some of the most disturbing scenes I have ever seen.
One element to this film that really caught my attention was the usage of special efx, cg, make up and other components that bring the realistic perception full circle. The last anthology, “10/31/98″ utilized a lot of special tricks to emphasize an otherworldy presence inside of the story line and was created from the writer, director and producer team know as Radio Silence. Consisting of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez and Chad Villella, these four men present the most elaborate physical setting of the entire film. It really caps off the film in the most disturbing manner and is one of the most interesting twists in a quasi exorcism horror type of way. When you realize what is happening at the end, it really gives the film that last punch that shows how much thought and technical feets were applied to the movie. The imagery is extremely dense and is a consistent reminder of why this film has so many people with different opinions. Nothing is straight laced and can be broken into systems that go far beyond what you are seeing or hearing.
All of the acting is really solid in V/H/S, another element to the film that I feel gives it a lot of authenticity and believing power. I couldn’t help but think about what I would do if I was caught in those situations and it’s that type of pulling in power that made me realize how important a film like this is. Most horror films center around one thing, one stream of connecting pieces while V/H/S cuts out all the fat of many stories and places you deep inside extremely disturbing situations that climax in rapid pace. Instead of having elements revealed to you outside of the knowledge of those in the film, V/H/S doesn’t give you this permission into the plotline and makes you dive into your own mind to figure what’s really going on. It truly allows the audience to fill in the gaps while the level of clever twists in each story turn the page on you and breaks you away from any possible assumption that can arrise.
My favorite anthology out of the six in total comes in a two part answer as I couldn’t just pick one favorite. The first anthology to be introduced after the misfits break inside the dead mans house called “Amateur Night” is an incredible beginning to the sub plots inside of the main story line and really sunk me into the seat I was in. POV/amateur/vouyer porn plays a big part in the direction of this story and creates a lot of the tension until the twist comes. With three guys who rig a camera to a pair of glasses that one is wearing, the three set out to record a girl who is drunk enough or willing to be a part of their sexual experience. The entire story is seen through this pair of glasses, something that really gives a perfect emotional resonance from the bar scenes and into the streets and finally the hotel. It’s a very unique visual impact to what occurs and is probably one of my favorite approaches to how filming was approached in context of the entire movie. After the three men find two girls willing to go back with them to their hotel, one passes out and the other who is abnormal the entire night is fully awake and accepts the sexual advance. Little do they know that she is an other world creature who turns the entire room into a blood bath. Genitals being ripped off, contortions beyond explanation and a level of violence that is really sick, it’s all set in motion by her really eerie way of saying “I like you” in the bar scenes. Actress Hannah Fierman plays the roll of this creature and took on the most demanding roll of the film. She nailed every little nuance of the characters disturbing nature perfectly. The image of her twitching and psychotic presence still sits in my mind as I write this, something I love about the effects of a film. The vulgar display of what occurs as this being morphs her other side is mind blowing and is something I doubt I will ever get out of my mind. The psychological presence of the two men who run into the bathroom created a really intense moment of reflection within me and is something I’d never want to experience.
“The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily” was the other anthology that really stood out to me in approach, style and the sheer weight of the twist at the end. More X-Files than anything, this story removes the overly charted territory of ghosts and monsters and dives into the world that science, aliens and the evils of this world could produce. With all of the story shot over an instant chat Skype type of program, the innovative approach in filming and plot twists is incredible and really shows a writer and director who were thinking outside of the box. In this society, someone had to be the person living next to a person like Jeffrey Dahmer when he did what he did and it’s this type of story that draws out that inside instinct of wondering what is really going on with the people around you and more importantly those you are closest with. “Second Honeymoon” has this same disturbing relationship plot twist and it’s a wonderful frontier into modern horror through technology, deceit and communication.
V/H/S is truly a film I stand by and something that I feel is going to have a lot of effects on future film makers. The concept of having 6 different teams of people all come together under one vision is perfectly executed. This collaborative essence allows each director and writer to give their own vision inside of the main blueprint and each one carries a voice as strong as the next. With all of the directors having a vast background in traditional film that showcases a lot of technique, the unorthodox methods of producing a film of this nature were very new to everyone involved. It is through the art of improvisation and strong plot lines that V/H/S sets the bar higher for the conceptual direction and impact of modern horror films. You can’t script the type of realism that speaks through each character in which gives the film its authentic feel.
Bloody, sexual and psychologically unsettling, this is one of the most personally invasive films I ever seen and left me shocked from beginning to end. I couldn’t help but hang on to every movement, every sound and every piece of the puzzle that creates what this film is really about. Highly recommended from Sound Colour Vibration.
Check out the official page for V/H/S HERE: http://www.magnetreleasing.com/vhs/
Directed by: Adam Wingard (“You’re Next”), Glenn McQuaid (“I Sell The Dead”), Radio Silence, David Bruckner (“The Signal”), Joe Swanberg (“Hannah Takes the Stairs”), Ti West (“The House of the Devil”)
Starring: Joe Swanberg, Adam Wingard, Sophia Takal, Kate Lyn Sheil, Calvin Reeder, Lane Hughes
Synopsis: V/H/S is a POV, found footage horror film from the perspective of America’s top genre filmmakers. In ‘V/H/S’, a group of misfits are hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house in the countryside and acquire a rare tape. Upon searching the house, the guys are confronted with a dead body, a hub of old televisions and an endless supply of cryptic footage, each video stranger and more inexplicable than the last…
RT: 93 minutes
*All photos courtesy of Magnet Releasing