Wednesday, March 8, 2017

When The Camera is Complicit, or Thoughts on V/H/S

One of the best anthology horror movie sof the 21st Century (fox) so far, V/H/S (2012), is a compilation of found footage for the YouTube generation by filmmakers that actually understand it.  This ain’t your father’s mise en scène; V/H/S is a collection of 6 flawless videos that you will find compelling, effective, authentic and consequently, terrifying.  The framing story, entitled Tape 56 and directed by Adam Wingard from You’re Next (2011), and the Blair Witch (2016) remake follows a group of frankly degenerate petty criminals who like to film their crimes and are hired to break into a house and steal a videotape.  They find a dead man and a box of tapes, and there’s your movie.
Amateur Night, director David Bruckner follows another group of degenerates who surreptitiously film their drunken hook ups with miniature glasses cams.  A night of partying in a cheap hotel room turns bloody when they bring home a dark eyed vampire/flying lizard/demon girl.  Good times.  Second Honeymoon from director Ti West from The House of the Devil (2009) and The Innkeepers (2011) follows a nice couple filming their honeymoon road trip as they’re stalked by a hitchhiker, who keeps breaking into their hotel room and filming them while they sleep (dun dun dun…).  
Tuesday the 17th, from director Glenn McQuaid has four friends on a lake trip on the bloody trail of a supernatural killer who can only be seen on video.   Director Joe Swanberg’s The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger is told completely through Skype chats and shifts the anthology into sci-fi complete with alien implants and a dash of Rosemary’s Baby (1968).  10/31/98 from Radio Silence Productions follows a four dudes looking for a Halloween party.  They get the address wrong and end up crashing an exorcism, with the sort of results you would expect in this kind of movie.
V/H/S inspired two sequels, (most likely because these movies are so cheap to produce), V/H/S/2 (2013) and V/H/S: Viral (2014).  As an audience we’ve become more familiar (or perhaps a better word would be tolerant) with this camera style from all the YouTube videos we’ve watched, and as a result the POV shots work, imbuing the movie with a sense of immediacy and presence.  The collected tapes are an immersive experience in the same way that video games are, but we’re not players, we’re an audience, and we are most definitely not in control.  


my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).