As far as films go, I’m a pretty easy lay. I will go along with almost anything that a film dishes out, freely and willingly. The first ten minutes of V/H/S introduce a cacophony of idiotic characters that not only made me want to leave; they made me want to punch people on my way out. Call me old fashioned, but I just don’t think it’s necessary to have every single character bare the worst clichéd traits of Gen Y, for no reason other than to drown the audience with dislikeable characters so you cheer on the evil-doers.
The film features an anthology of found footage shorts which are written and directed by Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, and a directing troupe known as Radio Silence. The thread that holds each short film together is the idea that each segment is being watched on a bunch of VHS tapes by a crew of young men, who are in the process of locating and then stealing a VHS tape. Kind of like a film-within-a-film deal. That one of these VHS segments is conducted entirely over Webcam is only one of the asinine idiocies of this collection of moronic vignettes.
As I mentioned earlier, the one standout slap in the face was the characters. There are many of them (there are 6 films in total, though it felt like more) and they’re all atrocious. An example, a group of ruffian young men, who break into abandoned houses and trash the place (boys will be boys!) and whose current favorite pastime is to accost women in parking lots, hold them back and film one of the young men ripping their tops up to reveal their breasts. Boys will be…wait, what? I found these kids to be barbaric and giving them my precious time felt like pissing acid. The most interesting character was a girl from the first clip who was not at all what she seemed, but don’t despair, they managed to fuck her up in the final shots.
Some of the movies were so ridiculous I couldn’t believe they made the cut. There was one set in a forest, which in hindsight didn’t have a bad premise, but was executed terribly and didn’t make any sense. There was one set in a haunted house, which again, halfway through I didn’t think was too bad, it just needed better written characters. Then it ended and I realised the characters weren’t the only writing issue. There was a genuinely creepy one involving a young road tripping couple and a mysterious stranger, which became, quite suddenly, a murderous, lesbian Thelma and Louise-esque clusterfuck. Every film seemed to have a “what the fuck?” ending, and after a while it wasn’t surprising or horrifying anymore, mostly just confusing.
As with most found footage films, the camera work is shoddy for effect. This is a good idea, if it’s done well, but naturally, some of these movies differ in speeds and quality and it was, at nearly two hours, nothing more than annoying. Most of the films were misogynistic and to say that it was appealing to the young moronic male demographic is a dramatic understatement. Ti West’s last film was a neat little flick called The Inkeepers, which wasn’t amazing, but was far from awful and showed the potential for a fresh new mind in horror and movie making in general. It was a genuine shock to find out which segment here was his.
The premise was good. The film makers seemed competent. The buzz was decent. The end product was an embarrassment. Is it too much to ask for a horror film that not only horrifies me, but doesn’t leave such a bitter fucking aftertaste?