V/H/S (2012, anthology): 5/10
I’ve snidely joked that I wish most found-footage movies would have actually lost their footage (in a fire), and for the most part, V/H/S once again tries to grind the genre into the ground. Look, things can be scary without having to shoot them like inept, drunk camcorder dads. I see how many of the segments in this omnibus horror anthology make a comment about voyeurism and documenting, but that can also be done without the found-footage gimmick (cf. Michael Haneke’s HIDDEN).
An early piece about three sexist douchebags getting attacked by a monster is intriguing for its nightmarish developments, but the camerawork serves to undermine the terror as opposed to heightening it. Ti West, who had previously made a couple features I wish had been shorts, finally gets to exercise his skills in a 15-minute film — so for a while it’s the best thing he’s ever done. But then a silly twist ending sort of ruins what had been a master class in suspense. The only other segment of note is the final one, which gets points for sheer batshit WTF-ness — and the found-footage gimmick doesn’t even get in the way. It even out-BLAIR WITCH-es BLAIR WITCH in terms of running through a haunted house with nothing but a camera light.
Horror is one of the most cinematic genres there is, mostly because of how the tools of editing, framing, and audio can be used for shock effect. So why are so many horror films choosing to only utilize those tools in the limiting gimmick of found-footage? It’s time to show this entire generation of directors John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN. Let’s get back to basics.