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Belittling Horror Excessively: V/H/S 211:37 PM -- Thu October 31, 2013

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Synopsis: A couple who do P.I. work are hired to find somebody's son. They break into his house to find a whole lot of TVs and VHS tapes (those are like DVDs, only rectangular, kids). The wife/girlfriend feels compelled to watch them as the husband/boyfriend wanders the house looking for the kid. And we share in the videos she watches as we cap off Halloween month by combining found footage with anthology movies! Hooray ensues!

Scariness Type: There are four shorts in this movie, plus the wrap-around story, which vary in scary. But overall, you will find tons of horrific gore in this movie, as well as some hearty jump-scares and classic creepy horror.

Rating: 4/5 Barbecue Forks.

Body Count: It's probably a good sign that I completely failed to track the body count. I know it was very high though, maybe 50 or so, most of them in the 3rd story.

Fun Fact: VHS tapes can absorb ghostly energy. This is a fact because it's stated with authority by a guy on a webcam.

Best Story: Untrue to standard anthology form, the first story is the best one in this anthology. It's about a guy who is given a bionic eye because he lost one of his eyes in an accident. It's a clinical trial of a new technology, and the doctor warns him that he may see strange things. Also, as the way of explaining how this can be found footage, they say they are recording everything the eye sees as part of the trial (which seems like an outrageous privacy violation, as well as something they just wouldn't and couldn't do). He goes home, and of course, he starts to see ghosts. This is a downright scary story, with all sorts of jumps and really well-done effects. The device of having the entire story shot from his eye actually works very well, with the only odd thing being that he clearly has to reach his hands out extra far to check his watch and do other things like that - you can tell it's really a camera, not something compact that would be right on his face.

Worst Story: I'm gonna split this one. One of the worst stories has a clever idea: a guy is riding his bike with a camera mounted to his helmet, and zombies attack. He ends up dying and becoming a zombie, but of course the camera's still on his head. So it's a zombie movie, from the point of view of a zombie. That's a fun and original idea, but you know, it's just a zombie movie, not that great (not terrible either, but really nasty gore). The other one to share last place seems really interesting for most of its running time - it's about a documentary crew visiting a weird cult to document what they're all about. You know they're actually into some weird demonic stuff and it's all going to come out, but for almost the entire story it just keeps building up and seeming weirder and leaving more clues. Then when everything gets crazy, it's still interesting and compelling. It's only in the final reveal sequence where it all goes wrong with a very silly rubbery monster straight out of Godzilla that is born with the ability to speak English. It might have been my favorite story if they had just found a sane, non-ludicrous way to end it.

The Other Story: The second best story is the last one, where kids are having a slumber party at a lake house when aliens land. It's never clear what the aliens are trying to do, they just sort of come at the people like zombies, but it's well done and very scary how they do it, and there's this awful deafening noise and light show that (I guess?) their spaceship spews out every couple of minutes that just really amps up the stress level. It's reminiscent of the smoke monster in Lost, this terrible noise you can't really identify. The really lame thing in this story is a silly dog puppet - there's a camera mounted on the back of a little dog for most of the story, and it's clearly a puppet, and the people clearly work way too hard to make sure it's always facing the right thing, and that it never runs off on its own.

A Suspension Bridge Too Far: It's all the problems you know from found footage movies - why are they still filming, what are the odds the camera would drop facing that way, why is that camera still working, why did you take the time to set the camera down before doing this, and so on. The bionic eye story gets around this entirely though, with just the one silly bit where it's explained that they'll be recording everything he sees. And by the way, right after I watched this movie, I watched The Office, and you know what? That show is done in the style of a documentary, and the characters acknowledge the camera regularly, but they don't mess around with it or worry about the reality of it - they never have to wait for camera guys to get in the car, they never have to argue with people about whether they can film where they are, the camera guys are never in anybody's way. It's fiction, done in a certain style. I don't know why found footage movies can't do this. There's nobody out there who thinks they're real, so why not just roll with it? Use the style without all the contrived nonsense! I don't care if a shot is suddenly filmed from the other side of a room where nobody is, that's okay if it makes the story work better. It would ironically be much more believable if they didn't try so hard to make it believable.

Horror Tropes: We have the found footage rules, like I said. There's also a crazy cult impregnating people with demons,a standard zombie attack, a standard alien invasion that made me think of Signs repeatedly, ghosts doing their usual thing of screaming or disappearing or being behind you, dead bodies getting up when you think they're dead. Fun stuff!

My Take: I loved it. I just had a lot of fun throughout, although I had to cringe a bit as intestines were munched on a few times. I saw V/H/S last year or so (I didn't review it, it looks like? I wonder if I have another set of reviews somewhere... I keep not finding movies I know I saw), and it wasn't that great. This is far better. The bionic eye story is great, despite a weak ending. The other stories are all worth seeing, and the wrap-around story isn't particularly a good story, but it's scary and keeps you wondering. It's not a perfect movie, I had many little issues and a lot of it was kind of dumb, but I certainly got my fun out of it, and I'm glad I'm wrapping up with something so good. Which, by the way, was suggested to me by Netflix Max. Thanks, Max. You obnoxious pile of garbage. I hate that guy. I gave him a chance to suggest movies for me almost every day this month, and he did choose maybe 7 or 8 of them, but mostly he's just an idiot. Also, the ones he chose weren't usually any good.

Missed Opportunity: I don't know, I really could've gone for just one more story in there.

The Lesson: Only watch DVDs, BluRay or streaming. VHS is just no good anymore, what with all the murder and possession. And low image quality.



And that's it folks! 31 movie reviews, with nary a one missed or late. And I finished watching two days early, so on Halloween I can watch Cabin In The Woods, as is my tradition. Since last year. And maybe make my wife watch Resolution. And I think I want to watch Evil Dead 2 and compare it to Evil Dead. Whatever, I'm free to do it all! Or none! Anything I want. Free at last!

Then the ultimate question... I did this all this month, it would take about the same amount of time next month to do Nanowrimo, so...? Maybe? I guess I'm rapidly running out of time to decide, aren't I?
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