“V/H/S” manages to make found-footage movies interesting again

By Wesley Emblidge

Countless terrible horror movies come out every single year, and along with them, there are a few terrible found footage (a film where all the footage was shot by the characters) movies released as well. Both kinds are made in bulk for one reason: they’re cheap to produce. So we get stuck with a lot of found-footage horror movies, for example since 2011 studios have released “Apollo 18,” “The Tapes,” “Paranormal Activity 3,” “Unaware,” “The Amityville Haunting,” “The Devil Inside,” “Haunted Poland,” “[REC]3: Genesis,” and now we’ve got “V/H/S.” “The Blair Witch Project” was a movie that first started the found-footage trend, but the first “Paranormal Activity” film in 2007 really started a flood of these films. We’ve also seen superhero (“Chronicle”) and comedy (“Project X”) movies from the genre this year. So at this point, the genre is becoming fairly exhausted. Thankfully, “V/H/S” uses found-footage effectively for the most part, and has something that sets it apart: it’s an anthology movie.

Anthology films are for some reason, really unpopular in Hollywood. The most famous that that even comes to mind is 1983’s “The Twilight Zone,” which was a collection of famous episodes, remade and compiled into one film. That’s the basic idea of an anthology film, a bunch of short films put together into one movie, and in some of the better movies, there’s one overall story that ties them all together. “V/H/S” is one of these films, although the story that ties the shorts together is actually far less interesting than any of the actual stories themselves. A group of criminals are sent on a job to retrieve an old VHS tape from a man’s house. When they break into the house, they find an old man dead in his armchair, in front of heaps of televisions and tapes. Each tape they put in plays another one of the films, which themselves range from great to just slightly above average.

One of the best shorts is a simple film, this time the found footage is through skype chats between a couple, as strange things happen to the girlfriend. It’s more creative than any of the others in how it’s shot, and easily has the best twist. Another one of the most effective is very standard horror movie stuff, but is made interesting by it’s makeup effects and one of the performances.

Even the more lackluster shorts still have something going for them, from cool execution to an interesting twist. All of the stories at least go somewhere you weren’t expecting, even if they were fairly boring until that point. So, like most anthology films, there are good and bad chunks to it. Lucky for this film, the good far outweighs the bad. “V/H/S” is on demand now and in theaters on October 5.


3.5/5 Stars