The end of the world is apparently scary enough, because 2012 has been an extremely disappointing year for horror movies. The Woman in Black showed promise, until it didn't. The Devil Inside made me want to go to hell. Many others failed to deliver, too. V/H/S, on the other hand, manages to buck the trend by teaching you not to have a threesome with a demon.
V/H/S is five horror stories in one, bound together by a loose arc that I do not recall (thanks, Wikipedia, for reminding me). Each segment is directed by a different person (or in one case, a quartet), and each is significantly different from the others. The good news is that with limited length devoted to each, the stories do not have time to run their course. The bad news is that some are better than others.
They are all shot in "found footage" style.
"Amateur Night," directed by David Bruckner, is the best of the bunch. It isn't particularly original, but it is both the most exciting and bloodiest of the bunch. A group of guys bring a couple girls back to their hotel room, unbeknownst that the quiet, doe-eyed chick is actually a winged beast looking for the toher kind of sucky sucky. Hannah Fierman, who plays Lily the demon, does a great job of being simultaneously sexy and frightening. All in all, it's a fun story that sets V/H/S in motion.
"Second Honeymoon," by Ti West, is about a married couple who, unknown to them, are filmed while sleeping. While entertaining to watch and not by any definition bad, it is instantly forgettable.
Glenn McQuaid's "Tuesday the 17th" is the worst segment of the bunch. About a group of four friends who are killed off one by one by a quasi-invisible killer, the segment is not only the least imaginative of the bunch but also the only one where it's clear none of the characters are going to survive. The premise surrounding the girl who lures her friends into the woods doesn't make much sense, and the killer is unintimidating.
A woman and her boyfriend ignore all rationality as they videochat in "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger," directed by Joe Swanberg. The woman is being haunted by ghosts in her apartment, and her boyfriend, who apparently lives in another state, watches through her computer. The segment actually has an interesting premise, but it's one that needed more explanation to be effective.
Finally, "10/31/98," directed by something called Radio Silence, is about some dumb guys who go to a Halloween party only to find a house empty save for several devil worshippers in the attic. The segment is fun but unremarkable, as it's the least creative (but not the worst) of the bunch.
V/H/S isn't a great film, but its stories are largely entertaining and at times scary. Many horror movies fall apart toward the third act as any originality they once had crumbles away; V/H/S avoids this fate because the directors were forced to strip their stories down to the basics. Not every segment works, but they're a good send off for the end of the world.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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