The makers of “V/H/S” never get around to answering the question that will be foremost on the minds of their young target audience — “What’s a VHS?”
By PETER HARTLAUB
The San Francisco Chronicle
It’s a compliment that the worst thing about this horror anthology is the inexplicable use of a dead technology to propel the narrative. Six directing teams strive for creativity, with entries that are violent, creepy, depraved and almost always satisfying.
It’s another found footage movie, but the filmmakers aren’t slumming. There’s a feeling of one-upmanship surrounding both the level of gore and the ingenuity. The directors find different believable ways to capture each installment, including a pair of spy glasses used to make a covert porno, a teddy bear nanny cam and one horror filmed entirely as a Skype-style chat.
The series begins and ends with a group of idiots breaking into a home to steal some VHS tapes, for reasons that are never fully explained, probably because they can’t be.
The first vignette after the framing story is a fairly straightforward date rape/succubus revenge drama. Next, “The House of the Devil” director Ti West handles the most subdued entry, about a serial killer tracking a honeymooning couple. We also get a nice twist on the indestructible-killer-by-the-lake genre, and the world’s worst boyfriend using video chat to investigate some strange happenings in his girlfriend’s apartment.
The best mini-movie is the fifth, directed by filmmaking collective Radio Silence — a wild ride through the paranormal with three costumed dolts, who mistake a real-life haunted house for a Halloween party.
While there are tinges of sexism throughout, taken as a whole, “V/H/S” seems to hate men and women equally. The film opens with a sexual violation presented in shockingly apathetic terms, and it seems as if every other female character in the film reveals her breasts. But the men in the movie seem much more stupid, and more likely to die after watching their own slow mutilation.
Speaking of, this is the most gratuitously violent film we’ve seen in 2012. If you’re the least bit prude about these things, better to find your mom’s old Quasar VCR and fire up “When Harry Met Sally …” instead.
You say it isn’t working? Try the tracking …
(At the Screenland Crossroads.)