This review may contain spoilers.
"V/H/S" is the latest first-person, found-footage style film that is dominating the horror genre right now. This film is billed as the scariest thing ever of all time. Let me put that rumor to rest right now -- while there are a few effective segments, most are so poorly done that laughter should be the most common reaction.
"V/H/S" is like the animation classic "Heavy Metal" in that there are several separate segments directed/produced by different groups of people. As in "Heavy Metal," the "V/H/S" segments are related in tone and genre, and its also clearly aimed at teenagers and early 20-somethings.
But unlike "Heavy Metal," "V/H/S" doesn't have a plot device interweaving between the different stories to link them together. There's no equivalent to the "Loc-nar." Instead it uses what amounts to a "master tape," which is supposed to be the result of one group of kids video taping the other various tapes once they find them.
The end result is something like "Terror Train" or "Tales of Terror," except much more uneven. It's pretty clear that the various directors (nine in all I think) had different skill sets and perhaps different budgets as the effects are also very uneven between the various stories. The segments aren't helped by the video meant to link them together -- it's poorly acted and the characters go through a series of "No one would ever act that way, ever" moments that would make any teen slasher movie from the '80s proud. The success of this "master" segment is crucial to whatever chances this film had of something more then a mis-mash of unrelated stories, but unfortunately it's one of the worst of the bunch.
Which is too bad because there are three effective segments. One in particular is quite good, but at over two hours long, this movie needs a serious pair of scissors. There's maybe 45 minutes of quality stuff, maybe a half hour of barely watchable footage, and 45 minutes of God-awful first-student-film-quality crap. Almost worse then including footage which should have been cut, "V/H/S" doesn't even have the sense to leave the best three segments for last. The faux VHS effect doesn't help things either, as the segments are obviously not shot in that now ancient format (if they all were, it might have actually helped).
Still, for all its many flaws, it does try hard. It's filled with violence and nudity and one really good story. That will probably be enough to make it a hit with teens who have finally grown tired of torture porn.
2 "they should have hired a real editor" out of 5 stars.
"V/H/S" is now available on iTunes and through such cable providers as Comcast and others, as well as for rent on Amazon and xBox. The theatrical release is Oct. 5 from Magnolia Pictures.
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