V/H/S Review

Published 3 years ago by , Updated November 26th, 2014 at 6:45 pm,

VHS Review 2012 movie V/H/S Review

V/H/S is an admirable experiment that is only partially successful, crafted by admirable filmmakers – only some of whom are successful with their chosen approaches to found-footage horror

A group of indie horror directors (and some relative newcomers) unite for the found-footage horror anthology, V/H/S. Comprised of five short films woven into an overarching main narrative, we are taken through found-footage versions of just about every kind of horror film – from the slasher flicks of the ’80s, to the occult and exorcism flicks of the ’70s, to the more modern “torture porn” and ghost house twist tales of ’00s.

The overarching story revolves around a group of petty delinquents with a camera fetish, who go around town assaulting women and destroying property. When one of the team pitches an offer for a simple break-and-enter theft job, the boys are all about it; the mission: grab a particular VHS videotape from some old man’s house. However, when the crew arrives at the house, there are tapes everywhere and a dead man is slumped in a chair before a stack of TV/VCR hookups. As the boys begin to watch each tape, they bear witness to strange and macabre events that seal their own fates.

VHS Amatuer Night V/H/S Review

As for the short segments: In “Amateur Night,” three rowdy young boys set out to film a drunken night of debauchery and sex, only to get much more than they bargained for. “Second Honeymoon” revolves around a young married couple trying to get back in the swing of things via a second honeymoon out west, but when a mysterious stranger knocks on their hotel room door, death soon follows. “Tuesday the 17th” sees four friends filming a trip up to a lake in the woods on the anniversary of a terrible crime, only to discover the killer is still lurking around. “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger” features a long-distance couple keeping connected via Webcam, and when paranormal events begin to plague the girl, Emily, she and her boyfriend James try to capture the phenomenon on tape. Finally, “10/31/98″ sees four friends venture to a Halloween party at a stranger’s house, only to discover that they’ve wandered into the middle of a cult ritual which unleashes violent demonic forces.

V/H/S is an interesting experiment, at the very least – one that tries to both bring back the horror movie anthologies of the ’70s and ’80s (like Tales from the Crypt, Creep Show and Twilight Zone: The Movie); give shine to some directors that have been crafting various styles of indie horror, such as Ty West (House of the Devil), David Bruckner (The Signal), Glenn McQuaid (I Sell the Dead) and Adam Wingard (You’re Next); lastly, V/H/S tries to bring something new to the quickly-depreciating found-footage sub-genre. In these collective endeavors, the movie is only partially successful.

VHS Red Band Trailer V/H/S Review

The found-footage format proves, as usual, to be the biggest hurdle. Whereas other F-F horror flicks use paranormal phenomenon as the basis for which someone is chronicling events on video, the horrible acts in each segment of V/H/S (save the “Emily” one) and the overarching narrative are captured on tape as a matter of pure coincidence. This means that the “protagonists” in the stories are not exactly intellectual types with investigative natures – they’re mostly collections of goofy, often perverted, violent and/or juvenile stock character types (read: poorly acted) that are hard to identify with or like – so it’s equally hard to care when they’re in danger or dying.

Moreover, most audiences know that the opening acts of found-footage films (where we get all the expositional setup necessary to follow the characters and plot) can be boring and tedious – like watching someone’s mundane home movies. While the respective writers and directors of each V/H/S segment do an admirable job quickly and concisely introducing the main points of concern, while implying greater depth in regards to characters and relationships, the actual rhythm of the movie (slow found-footage starts building to big twists, scares, and then abrupt ends) can be a bit tiring by the third of fourth segment – let alone the fifth. Unfortunately, the overarching narrative is rather thin in terms of its relevance to the tape segments or its function as a standalone story, so there is no greater purpose or intrigue helping to drive viewers into each subsequent segment. Once it becomes aware that you’re in for a segment-to-segment craps shoot, completing the anthology can quickly become a task rather than a pleasure.

VHS TV Spot V/H/S Review

Some segments are definitely stronger than others – while other segments are downright questionable editions to the final cut of the film (i.e., it might have been shorter and stronger without them). For me, “Tuesday the 17th” was an undeniable weak link, while “Amateur Night” was a standout. “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily…” will likely leave viewers scratching their heads rather than trembling in their seats – but the majority of the segments (3 out of 5) do illustrate some creative – at times genuinely creepy and frightening – filmmaking techniques, from some talented and creative filmmakers.

Overall, V/H/S is an admirable experiment that is only partially successful, crafted by admirable filmmakers – only some of whom are successful with their chosen approaches to found-footage horror. It’s a suitable film for home viewing – though the price (and audience experience) of a theatrical screening may not be as worthwhile.

V/H/S is now available On Demand through local cable providers; it will be in theaters (limited release) on October 5th. It is Rated R for bloody violence, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, pervasive language and some drug use.

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. good review,i´m glad you did gave it 3 stars of 5, my rating was 4 of 5.

  2. i thought the movie was horrible. i gave it a 1 star. the trailer was more entertaining.

    • where can I find it? id like to watch it but cnt find it anywhere

      • It’s on Netflix

    • Oh my God, I couldn’t agree more! What a pathetic attempt for a horror movie. Wasn’t even scary at all – the story that was interesting was the one when they were in the woods – Tuesday the 17th. All others were dully predictable and I yawned throughout most of it.

  3. Great review. Loved the previews I saw for this movie so I’m going to watch it tonight. Its got an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes so my expectations are a little higher then for normal a horror movie. Thanks for the review. Can’t wait to see it.

  4. After a second read-through, I’m going 2.5, not 3.

    • I’m still gonna check it out. Getting mixed reviews that’s for sure. Im hoping I’m on the side that really likes it.

    • why ? what´s the point ? that is a bit weird. that says to me that i can´t trust your reviews ?

      • The rating is the most pain in the rear part of a review – and since Kofi did not change a word of his review, how is it that you can’t “trust” his reviews? Is the actual review irrelevant? Maybe we should just just make our reviews “Here’s the score, trust us.”


        • over heated again. give me more time for better grammar : ) and i hope you understand it ,till then if i describe something. no, the fact is i was glad about 3 stars and then dissapointed for 2.5 stars. because 3 stars is watchable but a half point less is not watchable,vic.

          • 5 stars = Classic

            4 = Excellent

            3 stars = Good

            2.5 stars = Fairly Good

            2 stars = Fair

            1 Star = poor

            Because of the unevenness, with some segments vastly better than others, I feel this film is “Fairly Good” but not fully “Good.”

  5. Review is a little disappointing. After seeing the trailer a couple times I had somewhat (probably unrealistic) high expectations for the movie. I’ll probably still check it out On Demand.

  6. The fact that the film is OnDemand is a plus for me and a big reason why I’ll watch it this weekend.
    I’m a horror junkie but the problem is going to see a horror movie in the theater these days is a terrible experience. The theater is usually filled with talkative teens who’d rather be obnoxious rather than let others enjoy the film. So I’ll pay the $10, watch with a group of friends and have a laugh if it’s terrible or a good scare if it’s any good…

  7. sorry, i hope you(kofi) and vic don´t get me wrong, but i have critisized some reviews of you before,at most the rating of -the raid-,which would never get 5 stars from me and – the appirition- 0.5 stars. and some reviews are really good from you, but i thought you make a good or bad review in fact how your mood is. so,it´s too personal,you must stay objective not too personal,i.m.o.. it´s the same now with -v.h.s-. at first you give it a good 3 stars and then make the movie down with 2.5 stars. that would for me be to not watch a movie after a bad review,but i did have watched – v.h.s-.. 3 was o.k but 2.5 c´mon,kofi.

    • He didn’t change the context of the review, just the score. As Vic said, should he just change the reviews to “This is our score, just trust us”?

      Just because you don’t agree with a review, doesn’t mean that it’s bad. I don’t agree with it, on a 0 to 5 scale I’d give it a 1, but I’m not complaining that the score they gave is bad.

      • so the points has no meanings ? and i´ve said it for the future if he change the points like his underwear. don´t attack me all again. i´ve said it maybe 4 times that my english is not that good.

      • ohh, zach we had a little conversation about this -v.h.s-movie. i´ve written 2 hours ago some positive things to two comments of you. but,you must go on older entries.

        • LOL, 4.5 stars for Magic Mike? Yeah, after that I just go off of what the general public says. That movie was in the same class as Glitter LOL

    • They only give The Raid a 5 stars rating, because 6 was impossible

  8. Amateur Night to me was the worst, even if the plot hadn’t been spoiled in the trailer it was quite predictable.

    • Yeah, but hearing a girl say the words “I like you,” may now make me pee myself. None of the other segments had that great an effect on me.

      • thanks for the listing of the points-scale. now it´s clearer,kofi.

  9. There are many movies I’ll wait to see for free on Sky Movies here in the UK and this always seemed like one of them.

    Thanks for the review Kofi.

    Also merdan, everyone has differing opinions but Screen Rant’s staff and volunteers are pretty spot on and respected.

  10. Reviews here used to be spot on. I have been second guessing them since Hugo. I’ll never see that $30 and 2 1/2 hours again.

  11. Kofi,

    I don’t know if you can agree with me on this or not since you didn’t really hit on this in your review but for every segment I felt that the directors did a good to very good job of building tension. However, I felt that every segment did not give us the best payoff we could have possibly had. I was waiting for that moment when I could say “WTF!!!!” but that just never came. It just felt to me like the premise was great, the buildup was quite good, but the climax came up extremely short. I was wondering if you felt the same way as well. I felt that way especially during Amateur Night when the intensity was ramped up extremely high.

  12. hi, i just stumbled over the trailer and was somehow interested, so i looked for a review and came here.
    but your “review” didn’t help me at all to decide whether i’m going to watch this movie or not. it only explained that the story all-around is actually needless and what each of the 5 inside-movies is all about in one sentence and that some of them are good and some not.
    well, to be honest, watching the trailer gave me double the information as reading your review..

    • Don’t be an ass.

  13. I don’t understand why people have a problem whit the review on screenrant. I think this is one of the most balance sites out there. By that I mean, even if I don’t agreed whit the review, when they present a movie as a 3/5. I always end up watching a 3/5. Never I have watch a movie and when the complete opposite of the review. I guest screenrant and I just have the same taste in cinema. Keep up the good work !

  14. I thought this was a great review which perfectly summed up the positives and negatives of the movie. I especially agreed with Amateur Night being the stand out segment and Tuesday the 17th being the worst. For me the fact that Amateur Night worked as a short film is one of the things which made it great while Tuesday the 17th and The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily both seemed like they had the plot of a normal length movie condensed into a short films running time. Particularly Tuesday the 17th which was just bad.

  15. I very much agree with your review. I appreciated the effort, and this movie did do some interesting things. I admired what they were going for, but in execution, it was just sort of weak. A kid has to write a research paper, and you like what they’re going for, but it’s full of grammatical errors and disjointed thoughts and there are a bunch of syntactical errors; you don’t give them a passing grade and you don’t give them a zero. You find a way to land in the middle, and this is what they pulled off.

    “Tuesday…” was deplorable, I agree. My problem overall is that, as you mentioned, nearly none of the people in the film were likable and, as you said, it was impossible to sympathize with any of them. Further, they never really understood when to stop. “Second Honeymoon” would have been a lot better had they not gone for the “OH MY GOD, SHE’S A PART OF THE WHOLE THING” twist. There was little appreciation for subtlety. It would have been far more scary had we seen that they were being filmed intermittently by some creepy, unexplained person. Showing the perpetrator was incredibly unnecessary, and it destroyed any potential scare.

    I did think that “Amateur Night” was pretty special.

    • Great Review.

      My sentiments exactly.

      It’s difficult to “score” a movie like this because it will in fact lack the pieces of exposition that exists in other movies because it is fairly unique in that sense.

      I think that given it’s structure, we were definitely set up to like one segment more than others, something that would again take away from giving the movie a thumbs up as a whole.

      • I gave it a 4.

        It’s difficult to define how exactly to approach a review/rating for a movie like this.

        Regarding the “scoring,” I don’t think you can just give it a rating and that’s it. I’d rate it based on it’s strength within the horror/found footage genre.

    • where can I find this movie

  16. They showed too much of this movie in the previews. Why bother seeing it now? I just watched it

  17. To me, this movie was a waste of time. It never scared me not even an arm’s hair got rised and not because a suposed bravery but because not one single of its stories scares. You may still want to see this movie anyway but to me this wasn’t even entertaining.

    • I have to agree with you. I was very disappointed I spent money to watch this. I was expecting to be seriously creeped out at least once during the movie, and I was mostly bored.

  18. Thank you for reviewing V/H/S, Kofi! I went online Friday afternoon and rented V/H/S just before leaving my office at DISH. It was loaded on my Hopper and ready to watch by the time I walked in my door. Honestly, V/H/S suffered from the same issue I had with Blair Witch and that is the ever present shaky cam. As much as I wanted to watch this movie, I had to keep turning my head; not from fright or from gore, but from the nausea driven by the camera work. For the movie itself, I though each segment had its own merit. Some I liked more then others, but isn’t it always that way with films like this? I would give it a 3 without bickering over half a star.

  19. So many movies and I had to watch this HORRIBLE movie.
    1 Bad Actors
    2 Sooo predictable
    3 Camcorder? Really? Camcorded movies are outdated as soon as they came!
    Too cheap to use or rent a real camera with one of those train railings
    thingy? While you’re at it, go for 3D!
    4 You want a severe eye strain and headache? Poke your eyes with your
    fingers and hit your head with a hammer! Its cheaper and faster and gets
    the job done too.

  20. where did u rent this movie? I cnt find it anywhere..

  21. Just rented this sh-tty movie. It was horrible I’m really disappointed as you can read.

  22. I’m a huge horror movie fan, and wasn’t expecting much from this movie. I am glad to say though, I was thoroughly surprised by this one. While, yes, some of the clips were a bit lacking ( Emily and 10/31 were meh-ish), the others were fantastic. Second honeymoon gave me a certain creep, amateur had me kinda awww-ing, and Tuesday was just lawl worthy (bonus points for SE). And I agree, the plot device used to bind the movies (the robbers) was lacking. I would definitely score this higher than any of the paranormal activity movies for sure though.

  23. I’m a big hmovie buff and I actually enjoyed this movie. yes some parts don’t make sense but most of the short films are entertaining.