V/H/S is a collection of six unconnected short films ranging from aliens to ghosts to psychotic killers, each written and directed by a different team and featuring many different horror subgenres. The film follows a group of petty criminals, we know this as the first scene is a mixture of them breaking and entering, creating hidden sex tapes and so on. The group are on the hunt for an unusual video tape and come across a corpse surrounded by video tapes which, in order to find the correct tape they watch. All the films are approximately fifteen to twenty five minutes long and, as with the main story, all are filmed on handheld cameras however all have a very different take on hand held cameras, including video chat and glasses with a small camera hidden in them.
The first follows a group of jocks who use a small camera hidden in a pair of glasses to record them picking up women on a night out. However one of the women they take back to their motel room turns out to be more than she looks and the night doesn’t end well for the jocks. The next is directed by Ti West (The Innkeepers) and follows a married couple visiting the West (cowboys and all) and receive a scarily accurate prediction from a toy fortune teller. All the films are interspersed with the main narrative following the thieves in the dead man’s house where they find that they are not alone in the house. The third vignette makes use of tracking errors to cover a potentially supernatural killer in the woods, à la The Blair Witch Project. The fourth short is my personal favourite and directed by Joe Swanberg, who incidentally plays the lead in the previous short, and follows Emily talking to her boyfriend about a suspicious lump in her arm and strange things that are happening in her apartment. The final short features a real life haunted house at Halloween in 1998 and a retelling of the classic hitchhiker urban legend.
V/H/S has all the hallmarks of a great horror film and by keeping each storyline short means that the action is packed in, it takes a talented team to tell a story in such a short space of time, but each film, without exception, manages it. Whilst the use of a found footage is nothing new, V/H/S showcases the versatility of this method of film making and has something to appeal to everyone. The main criticism I have of V/H/S is the use of video tapes, which in this day and age are redundant having been replaced firstly by DVDs and now by Blu-rays and streaming, however the use of VHS tapes has the nostalgia and indie feel to it that the more advanced technologies have. I would recommend V/H/S as one to watch when you don’t know what type of horror film you are in the mood for or you are lacking the attention span for a longer film.