V/H/S will shock, but not much more

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Our last movie at Sundance had a lot of buzz this year. V/H/S was supposed to be a unique entry into the found footage storytelling method that most horror flicks now seem obsessed with. I decided to give it a chance, although such movies are being done to death (no pun intended).

V/H/S is actually an anthology of short films, tied up very loosely by an overall storyline. Unfortunately, this main story does not do that very well and even feels thrown together last-minute.

Also, when I say the main storyline reminds me of Jackass, I am not paying the film a compliment. My first mumbling to my moviegoing companion was “Are men really that stupid?” There is a fine line between over the top and too much, and this film completely misses the mark.

When people walk out of a movie, it’s never a good sign. And yet, more people stayed in their seats than I would have expected.

I am a horror film buff. I even like a lot of those freaky Japanese movies. As a young girl, The Excorcist gave me nightmares and I have been hooked ever since. I read Stephen King religiously and love discovering movies like Lo.

As a serious horror fan, though, I will not excuse poor storytelling in exchange for shocks and cheap thrills. Don’t get me wrong, V/H/S has a lot of moments that will make you jump, but the sensation is short-lived. It has a great deal of sex, violence and gore, but this is not enough to make it entertaining, or even scary.

Of all the shorts, I only found one truly scary, but its premise and scare factor get destroyed by a bizarre twist at the end. The other shorts are fairly predictable and trade quality for quantity of shock and what I like to refer to as the “blood and innards factor.” In fact, by the last short, the whole concept feels old and tired.

However, there is apparently a market for this. The audience I sat with was predominantly male and tended to giggle everytime a naked breast appeared onscreen. They seemed to like it. But for me, having grown beyond adolescence, I would recommend skipping this one. It’s not even worth a watch on DVD or Netflix.

In my picky horror film world, there is no excuse for lazy writing. Just throwing in everything you find shocking into a film does not make it good. There has to be a balance to a movie like this if you truly want to scare your audience. This movie is only cheap thrills with nothing of substance to keep you up at night wondering about the boogeyman. Because isn’t that what a good horror story is supposed to do?

To sum up, V/H/S sacrifices any sort of actual storytelling for the shock and gore factor. And in my opinion, this makes it dead in the water (pun intended).

Me? I am now actually starting to look forward to that Evil Dead remake.

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