V/H/S on DVD and Blu-ray

Sunday, 27 January 2013 18:15 Written by 

V/H/S on DVD and Blu-rayThe found-footage horror genre rumbles on with this novel portmanteau film consisting of five mini-tales, bookended by sixth story about a bunch of low-rent criminals who are hired to recover a video tape from the house of an old man. Whilst searching for the special cassette, one of the men works his way through a stack, only to discover some very disturbing material that should probably have been left undiscovered.

Based on a concept by Brad Miska, the project features ten different directors including horror luminaries Ti West (“The House of the Devil”, “The Innkeepers”, “Cabin Fever 2”) and David Bruckner (“The Signal”). The segments include riffs on the “Paranormal Activity” series, but not only do you get ghosts, you also get zombies, serial killers, freaks and more, so switch off the lights and settle down to some very nasty treats!

Being a collection of tales, the movie has to deal with the standard benefits and pitfalls. There is definitely plenty of variety on offer, albeit typically delivered by means of a shaky hand-held camcorder, and frequently in low-light environments. The stories are different enough to not blend into one, but you rarely get a chance to get to know the characters before they either die (99% of the time) or the film moves onto the next instalment (the remaining 1%!).

The acting and characterisation tends to lean towards the young, frisky and irresponsible adult, which is par for the course in horror, but can also be a little wearing when there are so few characters of any real substance. Thankfully the scares come thick and fast, and there is an ominous thread running throughout which means that even when a new story begins, you dare not release your tight grip on the sofa.

The chapters are typically low-budget in appearance, but one or two feature some decent special effects, including a spooky house in segment ‘10/31/98’ and a terrifically original baddie in the “Friday the 13th”-inspired ‘Tuesday the 17th’, who is made far more menacing and unknowable thanks to some simple video glitch effects.

The weakest part for me was ‘The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger’, where a boyfriend and girlfriend chat at regular intervals via webcams. Something is wrong with Emily and she is worried about a presence in her flat, but the dénouement is daft and not at all scary. Thankfully the rest of the film ranges from quite unsettling to horrifying, and comes recommended as a bit of a breath of fresh air for people who thought the found-footage genre had run out of steam.

Special features on both formats include:

  • Alternate ending
  • Behind the scenes on ‘Amateur Night’
  • Interview with actress Helen Rogers
  • Interview with writer/producer/actor Simon Barrett
  • Outtakes from ‘Tuesday the 17th’
  • Trailer

The alternate ending finishes the movie on quite a different note, and I think the original ending is more in tune with the film as a whole. The rest of the bonus content is pretty fluffy and insubstantial. Shame there is no joint commentary track with all of the directors. The picture quality of the DVD version reviewed is so-so, but then it is designed to look like shoddy VHS-quality footage anyway.

“V/H/S" (2012) is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment. The main feature has a running time of 116 minutes approx, carries an ‘18’ certificate and retails for £15.99 on DVD and Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com


Last modified on Sunday, 27 January 2013 18:20

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