Review by Annie Riordan
Things I Learned from the Movie V/H/S:
#1 – All men are stupid.
#2 – All women are evil.
#3 – Public Enemy was right. The hype should not be believed.
I’d heard nothing but positive things about this movie, a found footage horror anthology which debuted at Sundance, boasted segments by Ti (The Innkeepers) West and David (The Signal) Bruckner, and found itself included in many a horror critics “Best Of” roundup list for 2012. Frankly, I was bored comatose by The Innkeepers, but I loved The Signal and am one of the only horror fans I know who actually enjoys – and admits to enjoying – found footage flicks. I had no reason to believe that I would be anything but entertained by V/H/S, which is currently streaming on Netflix and which I eagerly sat down to watch. Instead, within half an hour, I was annoyed, disgusted and itching to stab the entire movie right in the fucking pancreas.
I wanted to like you, movie. I tried. However, you were like the blind date who belched his dinner, stuck me with the check and couldn’t fathom why I wouldn’t fuck you afterwards.
V/H/S is the story of a gang of lowlife scumbags who earn a living by documenting their assaults on random women in parking garages and uploading the footage as “reality porn.” However, the $50 they get for every boob shot isn’t stretching as far as it used to, and one of the guys claims to know a way to make a mint for one night’s easy work. Apparently, a fan of their films is aware of the existence of a tape full of footage which makes the gang’s homemade rape tapes look like Disney bootlegs by comparison. Said fan is willing to pay them all an assload of cash if they break into the house where the tape is hidden and steal it. The guys, all being incredibly disgusting fucksocks with the morals of a used condom and the combined intelligence of a hungover Kardashian, immediately head out for a little B&E.
Turns out the homeowner is dead, which should make their excursion all the easier, right? Except for the fact that the house is stuffed with VHS tapes, hundreds upon thousands of VHS tapes. Which one is the one they want? As the inept douchecanoes set about loading up the bootleg booty, the stupidest one of the herd sits himself down in the living room at the dead man’s feet and starts playing the tape already sitting in the player. Guess which one it is?
What follows is a mishmash of mismatched segments, all of the found footage variety, all featuring other equally idiotic shitsnacks bumbling about, trying to outdo one another in the reprehensible asshole department.
First up is “Amateur Night” in which a pair of horn-rimmed nerd glasses are equipped with secret recording equipment, enabling the wearer to record everything he sees. Off to a bar he goes with his douchy compadres, hoping to pick up some drunk sluts, bring them back to their hotel room and star in their own little porno. And indeed they do find a couple of female vodka vacuums who are willing to accompany the Crusty Jockstrap Brigade back to the fleabag. Except one of the girls is kinda weird. Not to be put off by her strangeness, the guys paw the girls for a while, the most cretinous of the crew cackles incessantly on the couch until I longed to put my hands into his mouth and yank it open until he could lick his own spinal cord, and just as it seems that gang rape is imminent, shit goes seriously south. In the words of fellow reviewer girl Kayley Viteo: “They literally embodied the madonna/whore dichotomy and gave it velociraptor teeth.” I could not have put it any better than that.
Moving right along, we get the weakest installment entitled “Second Honeymoon” directed by Ti West, which details the longest, most drawn out and convoluted murder plot ever imagined. Next up is a straightforward slasher called “Tuesday the 17th” about a bitch named Wendy who is more than willing to use her friends as bait just so she can prove that there is, indeed, a killer in the woods. “The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger” is basically a rip off of Cronenberg’s “The Brood.” And finally, the last segment entitled “10/31/98” presents us with a Halloween party gone horribly wrong, as a small group of friends literally stumble upon an exorcism in progress. This is the best segment of the bunch, directed by a group of guys calling themselves “Radio Silence.” I’d seriously be interested in seeing more from this group, as their offering was the only one which did not reek of misogyny or make my colon spasm with disdain.
I can stomach a lot. I’ve been a horror fan for 40+ years and it’s almost impossible to shock, offend or disgust me. V/H/S did all three. Not because it was horrifically frightening or grittily disturbing, but rather because it was so unlikable, reveling in its own filth like a pig in a mud puddle. Save for the final segment, this is a movie which hates itself. It hates men, portraying all of them as stupid, conscienceless penis-slaves whose own mothers should have aborted them in the first trimester. It hates women, portraying the majority of them as backstabbing, scheming whores who apparently learned the facts of life from a NatGeo video about the mating habits of the female praying mantis. It hates its own audience, seeming to think that most of us actually want to watch this kind of hateful shit, and that we might even enjoy it to boot.
This is not entertainment. It’s masturbatory porn. It’s on par with a slobbering pervert frantically fapping away at his own pucker and filming it, honestly believing that what he is doing is art and that he’s equipped with just enough street cred to convince others that what he is doing is art.
All I have to say is: Don’t believe the hype.