By David Mayne
Waiting for a movie, after seeing a trailer that actually takes your breath away, is tough. Waiting months and months for a film that you cannot wait to see is the true test of a film buff. On opening day, do you rush headfirst into the theater, so anxious to see the movie that you throw away all sensibilities and critical thought, opting instead to soak it all up, to instantly love it without a second thought? Or, do you go in cool…level headed, with a deep reverence for the craft of film making, willing to cut to shreds the very film you vowed so solemnly to love?
When I first saw the trailer for VHS, I both chilled and cringed. When it comes to the genre of “found footage” films, the terrain can be a bumpy ride. What rare gems like The Blair Witch started, sloppy schlock like Cloverfield ended. The very phrase, “found footage”, conjures deep seeded emotions, immediate disgust, and overall foreboding. Rarely, if ever, does a film of this usually average genre succeed and rise above like a finely yeasted sourdough. Most found footage flicks are merely WonderBread…while VHS is, well…a finely baked loaf of San Francisco’s finest.
“Telling”, more or less, 5 separate stories,VHS tells the grisly tale of group of amateur criminals who would do anything for money. Usually getting their kicks (and paychecks) by exploiting innocent and unsuspecting bystanders, the group is suddenly presented with an opportunity they can’t refuse. After learning that stealing a certain VHS tape from a specified location will net them a healthy payday, the team is fast at work to locate the coveted tape.
After arriving at a strange residence where they find the elderly owner dead, apparently from natural causes, the group sets about to search the premises for the mysterious video.
I will stop here, as the following is true: YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS FILM WITHOUT ANY SPOILERS. DO NOT GOOGLE OR WIKI ANY OF IT. The only way VHS is effective, much like its kindred spirit, The Blair Witch Project, is to go in “blind”. TRUST me. By looking ahead, you will ruin this film. It deserves to be viewed with virgin eyes, so to speak, take my word for it.
While some segments are better than others, the film as a whole succeeds in its intended purpose: to make you uneasy, squirm in your seat, and dread what is coming next. While it could have been edited a tad, mostly for length, VHS is a perfect example of what a group of people can do with some friends, a video camera, and a really good (and F*CKED up) idea.
I don’t take my horror lightly folks, and while I can honestly say that most horror flicks don’t faze me, VHS got the better part of me for around an hour, and I’m pretty sure that some part of it will grab a hold of you and suck you in as well. As horror goes, VHS pulls no punches, and will undoubtedly find fresh ways to make your skin crawl and imagination run wild. I will leave you with the names of the tapes they watch, as perhaps an enticing draw or a cautionary shove…you decide.
- Amateur Night
- Second Honeymoon
- Tuesday The 17th
- The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger
Night night Amigos…sleep with one eye open.
4 out of 5