Combustible Celluloid
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With: Calvin Reeder, Lane Hughes, Adam Wingard, Hannah Fierman, Mike Donlan, Joe Sykes, Drew Sawyer, Jas Sams, Joe Swanberg, Sophia Takal, Kate Lyn Sheil, Drew Moerlein, Jason Yachanin, Helen Rogers, Chad Villella, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Paul Natonek
Written by: Simon Barrett, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, Nicholas Tecosky, Ti West
Directed by: David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, Joe Swanberg, Ti West, Adam Wingard
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, pervasive language and some drug use
Running Time: 116
Date: 01/22/2012

V/H/S (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Tape Fear

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Horror anthologies have a long history, stretching back to Waxworks (1923), and to the high water mark of the genre, Dead of Night (1945). The new V/H/S seems mainly dedicated to fans who watched these films and many others on muddy old videotapes, or perhaps made their own.

The quality in V/H/S is unfailingly low, on purpose, with sloppy hand-held and fuzzy framing. It might even be better to see it at home, rather than on a big screen.But the spirit is willing, and all six segments come up with some genuinely spooky, if not morbidly appealing ideas.

A group of internet pranksters are given the task of breaking into an old house and stealing a certain VHS videotape. The robbers pop random tapes into the player and watch five different "stories." A group of partiers attempts to pick up a couple of girls in a bar, only to find that one of them isn't quite human. A couple on their second honeymoon is visited by a mysterious figure. A group of friends ventures into the woods where a bizarre killer is known to have struck. A doctor speaks to his new girlfriend over Skype, trying to help her out with her ghost sightings and paranormal happenings. And three friends attend a Halloween party at the wrong house, stumbling onto a kind of deadly cult ritual.

Unlike many horror anthologies, the quality here is consistent. No one segment is noticeably better or worse than the others, though the terrific director Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) seems more focused on characters in his segment, "Second Honeymoon." And the visual effects in the last segment, "10/31/98," are very impressive, especially in contrast to the grungy video imagery. Overall, it's a unique and effective movie for fans.

Note: the collective known as Radio Silence consists of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, and Chad Villella.

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