Directors: Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Joe Swanberg, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence
Stars: Calvin Reeder, Lane Hughes, Joe Swanberg, Sophia Takal, Kate Lyn Sheil, Joe Sykes, Hannah Fierman, Mike Donlan, Drew Sawyer, Drew Moerlein, Jason Yachanin, Helen Rogers
The horror anthology is a tricky beast to wrangle. Comprised of multiple short films, all rolled into one something-for-everyone package, the genre omnibus inherently brings with the risk of over-indulgence; if you’ve got three or four mini-movies in one package, there’s a strong chance of one or two inferior segments.
V/H/S, the new found-footage anthology backed by some of horror’s most exciting young filmmakers, has five stories, plus a wraparound framing narrative, and not all of them are entirely successful. Touching on various subgenres, the free-spirited and crowd-pleasing V/H/S finds the most success in classic tropes, particularly the haunted house (YouTube collective Radio Silence’s remarkably insane closing segment, the no-holds barred funhouse ride “10/31/98”) and the slasher (Glenn McQuaid’s inventive killer-in-the-woods chiller “Tuesday The 17th”) conventions.
Far less successful is “Tape 56,” the Adam Wingard-directed wraparound that’s initially intriguing but goes nowhere. Even in “Tape 56,” though, which follows four douchebag pranksters as they break into an empty home and watch old videotapes next to a dead body, V/H/S exhibits the reckless merriment of daring filmmakers all having a blast, not “working,” per se. It’s in the ambitious visual devices that freshen up the found-footage conceit (i.e., video-glasses and ghosts seen via laptops’ Skype cameras), and it’s in the outbursts of extreme gore and exposed female breasts that frequently appear. Flaws or not, V/H/S reminds us how wicked horror can be when it’s just about fun.