Wednesday, October 28, 2015

31 Horror Movies in 31 Days: V/H/S

by Dan Moore

I love horror movies, so I'm watching one a day in October.  There's no rhyme or reason to the flicks I'm watching. Some I've never seen, some I have. Join the discussion on Twitter with #31Movies31Days

Day 25: V/H/S (2012)
Day 26: V/H/S/2 (2013)
Day 27: V/H/S Viral (2014) 

Director: A buncha different folk
Starring: A buncha other, different folk

Anthology movies are alway an uneven affair. It's their nature. Different writers, actors and directors for each vignette are gonna give you different shifts in tone & talent. These VHS movies are the perfect example of this.

These flicks consist of 4-5 different short, horror movies with a wraparound story that tries to tie everything in together. Right off the bat, I'll let ya know, the wraparound segments are the weakest parts of all three of these movies. I understand the reasoning for these creators to want this to be all part of some grand mythology, but the wraparound plots are so thin, they're pointless. They exist just to link together these other, longer movies, but they're pretty pointless and not scary.

From the original, the best segment is the first, Amateur Night. A couple bros go out to get chicks. But one of the ladies is a They do a good deal of making this obviously dangerous girl really creepy. She stares off to the side and says little but "I like you." When she finally goes through her change, it's predictable but effective. She's a fine movie monster, and always seemed to be a threat. The other segments in this one are meh, but the final one, simply titled, 10/31/98, is an old school, haunted house-like segment. Barebones effects and genuine scares abound in this tale.

Part two is probably the best of the three films, with the highlight being the middle segment, Safe Haven. Quite frankly, one of the oddest horror sequences I've seen. It's about a documentary team heading into a cult community to shoot some of their weird activities. What they see is clearly more than they bargained for. Watching this bustling, living cult group seems almost like it is an actual documentary. And it's fucking creepy. The way the actors in the cult behave, I swear it wasn't acting. They all seemed to actually be in a cult, loving their glorious leader. I was so creeped out, I found myself wanting more. I wish this segment was longer, and focused on the weird lives of these cult people. Once the story really gets going, it's way scary, and the final revelation, though truly far fetched, had me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what the hell was actually going on.

Easily the worst of the three, Viral shows a dramatic shift in tone, as it's shown more as YouTube generation, selfish teen-type recordings of a bunch of characters no one could possibly like, with the exception of the first segment, Dante the Great. Dante's a down-on-his-luck magician until he buys an old cloak that once belonged to Houdini. The special effects in this one are pretty damn good for a low budget flick, and I totally loved the Dante character. To see him go from sad sack to top magician and then a supernatural fall from grace was all told in a convincing fashion in about 23 minutes. The rest of this entry is pretty forgettable, though there is a segment with a killer vagina (Yeah, try not to watch this now).

THE GOOD: I like anthologies, and even if a particular episode isn't good, you know it's short enough that you're getting something new in a few minutes. The posters are cool designs.

THE BAD: There's plenty of it in these movies. Bad acting, bad effects, annoying VCR-like tracking on all the tapes. Yeah it's a stylistic thing, but it gets very old quickly.

THE DUMB: Because the segments are so short, the characters make some truly inexplicable decisions. The directors are trying to go from point A to B super quick, but for chrissake, no one is walking into a sewer of skeletons or a forest with noticeable zombies or into an ALIEN INVASION ever. It just doesn't happen.

SHIT OR HIT: A little bit of both. Like I said, they're gonna be hit or miss based on the anthology format. There's more misses than hits, but they're worth your time.

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