For this installment of Horror Triple Feature, we’re going to talk about an actual trilogy: V/H/S. All three of these movies are found footage, horror anthologies telling scary short stories. I happen to love the anthology subgenre. If you do, too, stay tuned to see if these are worth your while, even with the found footage label.
V/H/S. This is the one that started it all. Each film has a framing device that gives the movie structure, and it either works or doesn’t depending on the film. This one only sort of works in my opinion. The acting is fairly atrocious. It maybe takes a little too long to get to the first story, but once it does, you’ll be hooked. In fact, the first segment was my favorite from this movie, which is good. It means that it starts with such a bang that you can’t help but be invested in whatever comes next.
I was impressed with the use of the found footage gimmick. So often it feels arbitrary that a movie was filmed in first person. Here it feels absolutely necessary every time. There’s always a reason why we’re seeing everything and from the perspective we are. That’s essential to making something like this feel at least halfway believable. Every segment feels like a bizarre snuff film, with turns that are just unexpected enough to keep them engaging. Before I move on to the next film, I also really enjoyed the segments “Tuesday the 17th” and “10/31/98”.
Final Rating: 4/5
V/H/S/2. Not the most inspired sequel title I’ve ever seen. Just… two. Here we are again. The immediate issue I see is that the budget is higher all around. Maybe for some this seems like a good thing. For me, the charm of the first movie that made it feel more authentic was the grittiness of the production. The way they clearly had to shoot things just so to make you suspend disbelief. The way they relied on simple effects. This time around, they obviously could do more. This results in the segments feeling, in universe, harder to believe. Two segments here are about oncoming apocalypses. How exactly did this become a lost VHS tape that no one ever talks about? That seems like it would be national news.
Got that negativity out of the way first thing, because this movie also showcases the best segment of the entire series. “Safe Haven”. The first segment was a disappointment. The second segment was a bit better. The framing device is just a repeat of the first movie with a couple instead of a group of douche bags. But “Safe Haven”. It’s a little masterpiece. I wish it were its own movie, because it would quickly become my favorite movie. I can’t say enough about that. It’s followed by a segment that couldn’t possibly hope to live up to it, but who even cares? That third segment makes the entire experience worthwhile.
Final Rating: 3.5/5
V/H/S: Viral. Considered by far the least of the trilogy, I didn’t think it was that bad. I want to get that out straight out of the gate. I thought this was all right. The framing device was about as good as either of the previous films. It maybe played too large of a role, in that each time we were treated to part of the framing plot, it went on and on. I’d rather be watching another segment than… whatever happened at that party where the dog got a fork stuck in its head. I know that sounds terrible, but the dog is so very alive and unaffected, it swiftly becomes the best narm I’ve seen in a while.
“Parallel Monsters” was clearly the winner if we’re going to pit the segments against each other. Like the second movie, there’s just no denying that this is the best. It’s so outrageous and deliciously wild that it has to win. If I were going to say there was a problem with any of them, it would be the first one, “Dante the Great.” The documentary style makes no sense when the people being interviewed are saying, “I don’t know what could’ve possibly happened.” Meanwhile we’re watching footage of exactly what happened. It doesn’t mesh. Misuse of the found footage format. (Say that three times fast.) Yet still not the worst horror story I’ve ever seen. The very harsh criticism of this film doesn’t seem warranted to me. It had it’s missteps, but it was still an enjoyable ride.
Final Rating: 3/5
For the moment, this entire trilogy can be found on Netflix Streaming if you want to give it a shot. If you enjoyed this review, check out my Redbubble Shop and help support this blog. As always, happy geeking!