Streaming and downloads are fine for Minimalists but how can you really own a movie until it’s sitting on your shelf for nosy visitors to judge and define you by?
Video cassettes are dangerous – especially if a dusty box-full of them falls on your head when you’re rummaging through the attic – and V/H/S takes us back to the days when terrifying box art damaged childhoods, when James Woods morphed into a human video recorder and Sadako crawled all the way from Japan, straight out of the TV and into your living-room.
V/H/S is an anarchic, schizophrenic horror showcasing promising young directors with a mixed-bag of shorts tied-up with a warning – if you must break into a dead guy’s creepy home don’t watch his videotapes.
Like all anthologies the quality varies and the tonal shifts are disorienting but, on the plus side, nothing outstays its welcome long enough for you to question why anyone would convert their phone footage or Skype conversations onto clunky old video cassettes.
The best found footage movies find innovative ways to incorporate the act and products of filmmaking into the plot itself; so a seemingly routine teen slasher becomes sharp and memorable through clever use of that familiar and idiosyncratic chewed-tape distortion. Meanwhile, Generation YouTube Trick or Treaters disrupt a dubious ritual yet continue to record the mayhem and danger – laughing when they ought to be screaming.
V/H/S is a perfect combination of old school and experimentation in search of stronger themes. The miscreants in the opening are suitably punished for their criminal misuse of technology and most of the stories are driven by strong female protagonists but these are issues left hanging in the wake of a simpler urge to shock and entertain.
Sequel S-V/H/S is scheduled for a July 2013 release and with lessons learned, a bigger budget and more of what works we could be looking at a five-star follow-up.
Verdict ~ A rich and diverse eye assault of memorable images to leave you pondering. Yep, there’s still life in the old tape yet!
*WARNING* Red Band Trailer, not for little eyes!