Roll (V/H/S) Tape

The best descriptor of V/H/S is that it is found footage within found footage. But do not let that deter you.

The film opens with guys filming themselves driving around. They are on the prowl. What we get is footage of the guys basically being jerks, grabbing women to expose their breasts, filming women in compromising situations without permission, breaking windows, smashing private property, breaking and entering and vandalism.

One of the guys tells the other he knows a way for them to make big bucks. They just have to break into this house and get a VHS tape for the customer. Upon entering the house, they discover a dead man in front of a bank of TVs and then a lot of video tapes. In an attempt to find the right one, they start watching the tapes.

Each tape tells a different story (and each by a different director) and all are found footage format. The first story is about a group of friend out to pick up girls and make amateur porno. It goes awry when it turns out that one of the girls is something not so human.

The next story follows a couple who find their marriage to be not quite what it seems. The next story follows a group of friends who go camping and meet grisley fates at the hands of an unseen killer. This is followed by a tale of a young woman and her boyfriend trying to confirm her apartment is haunted. of all the stories, this one has the biggest twist. The final tale follows four buddies who end upescaping a haunted house…and then things get really bad.

The stories vary in quality and subjects. Ti West’s (pretty much the only director I was familar with) contribution is in the tradition of House of the Devil and the Innkeepers with a slow setup that turns dark very quickly. Quite an accomplishment for a fifteen minute short film.

Overall, the stories provide some good scares (Tuesday the 17th being the weakest link-the format does not allow for the story to go beyond cliches). The actors do convincing jobs as regular folks caught up in shocking circumstances.

But where the film really shines? It’s visuals. The film captures it’s mediums perfectly. I do not know if they filmed with VHS cameras or not…if they didn’t? Kudos to the folks who edited this film, because it looks like VHS. The deviation-The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger-is all shot on webcams. They manage to really sell the look and it adds to the creepy atmosphere of the stories. This is a case where the filmmakers really use the look to serve the stories, and it works really well.

I recommend this for some good Halloween viewing.

I also cannot wait for the inevitable sequels D/V/D , Blu/Ray and Streaming.

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