Company: The Collective
Runtime: 116 mins
Plot: When a group of misfits is hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape, they discover more found footage than they bargained for.
Review: V/H/S is a horror anthology movie made up of 5 short stories and a bookend wrap-around story, all of which was made in the found footage style of film making. Like with all anthology movies, some entries were great while others...well, not so much. I'll start first with the main wrap-around story. It involves a group of trouble-making hooligans that video tape their crimes and potential attempted rapes and all that, and they get hired by a mystery man to break into this old guy's house and steal a VHS tape. While in there they come across a room filled with VHS tapes and start checking them out, which leads to the various short stories this movie is made of. I really hated this wrap-around story, especially since it led to nothing at all and even finished mid-way through the movie, before the movie was even over and while more of the short stories were still to come. There was nothing scary here, and there was no build-up to anything good, just a quick flash of something before the camera shut off and that was it. Out of all the characters in all the stories of this movie, these were the most hateable and the ones you wanted to see get their come-uppance the most, which is why it's even more frustrating that you don't ever see anything all that bad happen to them, and most (if not all) get killed off-screen.
The first two of the actual short stories were great though. The first deals with a group of party-loving college friends that are having a night on the town and trying to get laid, but one of the girls they pick up and bring back to a hotel room isn't exactly what she appears to be. This one was creepy as hell and is easily my favorite of the bunch. Even the questionable CGI moments didn't bother me at all and if anything, added to the creepy factor more often then not.
The second story was classic Ti West movie, but in 20 minutes as opposed to full-length. Ti West is a controversial horror director, where I find people either love him or hate him and there isn't much middle ground. Personally, I love him. In this entry, a honeymooning couple is traveling across the U.S., but an unknown stalker is following them across the country and keeps recording them with their own camera, from inside their hotel rooms while they sleep at night. As is usual with his fare, this entry has a bit of a slow build and not a whole lot really happens until the very end, but it still remains creepy as hell and tension-filled through and through, and it uses that slow build, as Ti West often does, to make you A, care for the characters and B, slowly build the tension to a boiling point that comes to a head at the very end. My only complaint with this one is that the ending was really predictable, as I called it almost right away, however that doesn't make it any less shocking when it hits.
The third story is about a group of four college friends that head up to the family cabin that one of them owns, but their vacation is cut short by a vicious killer made entirely out of static, and seemingly only visible through a camera. No way around it, this entry was total lameballs. Not even remotely scary, just stupid. Not even on the same playing field as the first two stories. The first two felt like they could have easily been theatrical movies if made longer, while this one just comes across like a micro-budget student project, and a bad one at that. This one is the worst that this anthology has to offer, though also luckily the shortest. I can't recommend enough to just skip this one all together.
The fourth story deals with a girl webchatting with her doctor boyfriend, whom she's in a long distance relationship with, as weird paranormal activity seems to be escalating in her new apartment. Over all this entry was a nice step up from the previous one, and was actually pretty intense for the majority of its runtime, and it was kind of a better attempt at a Paranormal Activity movie then a couple of those sequels had been. Unfortunately it all comes completely apart in the final few minutes, once the big shocking twist is revealed, and that made this entry take a very quick nosedive for me, and just ended up leaving me more confused then scared. Also, when you stop to think about it, you can't help but wonder exactly how these webchats are being recorded? Especially when the fact that they're not being recorded is a plot point mentioned several times? While I liked this entry more then the previous one and more then the initial wrap-around story, it's still a far cry from the awesome first two stories, although the potential was totally there had it not been for that dreadful twist ending that just ruined the entire thing.
Luckily the final story is back to being pretty good, however it still doesn't quite reach greatness. It follows a couple of friends as they arrive at a Halloween party they had been invited to, only to find the mansion empty...that is until they find a cult in the attic doing very unspeakable things. This story's biggest fault, to me, is that its too short. Out of all the entries of this anthology, this is the one that could benefit the most from being extended into a full-length movie as I felt not nearly enough time was given for the subject matter, so its just a huge rush job on an otherwise really interesting story. You're not given time to get to know the characters, and thus you don't feel anything for them, and it starts throwing all these good ideas at you such as devil cults, possessed people, and a haunted house that seems to be alive with walls that morph over windows, doors that shrink or disappear entirely, and other creepy as hell things. But you only get to spend a few seconds on any given topic because they have to cram so much into such a short runtime, and you never really get the chance to enjoy any of it because it's instantly moved onto the next wild and crazy thing. With a longer runtime and more room to flesh everything out, this entry could end up being a really creepy and fun horror movie. As it stands as just one more short story in an anthology, it remains not as good as the first two stories, but certainly better then everything else in the movie.
Overall, there's some great stuff in V/H/S, but also some huge crap in there as well, just like with most anthology movies. Luckily, due to the wide range of quality, there's more then likely at least something in there for everyone.