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Tuesday, 2 July 2013

V/H/S, Now on iTunes

Oh found-footage, how we have such a strange fascination with you. This phenomenon is either to satisfy the very niche market of motion sickness fetishists or a perfect example of our sudden, inexplicable need to regress back to a more primitive form. Like some kind of worldwide media version of Altered States.

Except, at the same time, nothing like it.
Now my previous post's mention of the infamous Succubi, or sex demons, reminded me that I had been recommended to watch a found-footage film involving some of the very same creatures.

V/H/S is one such film, and it takes place in a universe where everyone seems to think it's a good idea to record all of their sexual endeavours, whether their partner consents to it or not. Everyone in this movie is vile. From the petty criminals cum voyeurism porn makers who set up the recurring narrative to each of the unsuspecting victims of the movie's wonderfully gruesome monsters. Even the seemingly well meaning boyfriend of tape number 2 is an insufferable creep once he is alone in a room with a half-naked woman.

At last, a place where he belongs.
The formula is very quickly established and doesn't let out for the entire course of the movie. The aforementioned criminals (who, within the first fifteen minutes, have deemed it a good idea to film all of their crimes including sexual assault, breaking and entering and vandalism) search a dead guy's house for a tape that will magically make them rich, because money. Each of them then proceeds to vanish one by one after watching one of the many tapes scattered around the room containing said dead guy.

I imagine this is how they expect to get paid. At least she's using the good kind of money.
Cue each of our mini-stories. Based around a different person with a camera filming mostly mundane stuff and usually having sex or at least looking at breasts, none of the tapes are related and most of them don't even give us any back story to their host monster; we're dropped right in at the moment the camera is turned on with nary a backwards glance to see if we're keeping up.

The boundaries of reality seem to be stretched about as much during the slower scenes as in the ones involving evil alien ghost dismemberment or whatever. Go on, lets see exactly how much petrol this guy is putting in the car. And now the girl is petting a donkey. Ok, I get the idea, we're starting to get to know these two with a little bit of- DEAR GOD, now we have to watch her check the motel bed for stains.

Seriously, who are you? I know you said you wanted to film "little mementos" of your trip, but if this is interesting to you please, for my sake, pull a Bruce Willis, put on an offensive sandwich board and walk through the dodgy part of town, because at least then there's a likelihood that something interesting might happen while you talk painfully slowly about hats as you window shop.

"Honey, look, that knife is just like the one that homeless man stabbed you with."
This film revels in taking it's time and keeping you in the dark. At points the actors take so long to reply to each other's brief statements that the only possible explanation is that they might all be a couple shinys short of a full gen 1 set. But that's not all bad, this agonising pace helps set up some real suspense, and the extended periods of mundanity (is that a word?) lull you into a false sense of security for just long enough that you don't expect the next brutal murder. But now you do expect it. Cause I just told you to. You're welcome.

Oh, you tease.
And when we do get to the gore, oo, my is it yummy. Some real effort has gone into making the blood and guts look good and the monsters, especially the heavily Slender Man inspired woods murderer, feel believable even when the crazy CGI shit starts. And unlike most digitally based horror nowadays, this stuff really works. With liberal use of camera shaking and some very subtle scares (my favourite being the vanishing chair in the final tape) the directors manage to ramp up the tension before the shit hits the proverbial fan, making it all the scarier when it finally does.

On the subject of complete tangents, you know the bravery of the moment when you decide to fight back against the evil flesh-munching monster loses a little something when you're standing there utterly naked.

This image has been made suitable for children aged 5 and above.
Have you ever seen someone tear off a man's genitals and cast them aside like so many disappointing sets of authentic flesh bolas? If not, then don't, it is not pretty. If you decide to watch this movie, you don't get a choice, it comes with the happy meal. Like Vin Diesel's 2005 family hit, The Pacifier, and the classic 1978 slasher, I Spit on Your Grave before that, this movie deals with the inherent fear of complete emasculation and gruesome dismemberment at the hands of a remorseless monster that brutally punishes us for the terrible things we do in the pursuit of our basest of desires.

Ok, so I dropped the baby ball a couple of lines ago.
That's not all though. Thanks to the sorely missed Hammer House of Horror style of shorts held together by a longer narrative, we are subjected to every modern fear you could imagine, from betrayal by a loved one and haunted houses (we're all still scared by them, right?), to being stalked and having your bollocks chewed off, so there isn't a person who will leave the cinema without feeling a little shaken.

Again, this picture is irrelevant.
And I think that's where this movie makes its mark, you just can't tell what will come next. Although it starts out as a little silly, you may even laugh at the poor bastard about to become demon supper, as each video ends with a silent blue screen that little tingle down you spine gets a tiny bit stronger as you wonder what could be coming next. I mean, they're only videos, right. What's the harm in watching one more?

If you see this in your dreams, you're already dead.

Overall Ben Equivalence Rating

Talking to my Autistic Cousin -
There's a lot going on that you're not being told about, the conversation is painfully slow and the longer you're there the more uncomfortable it gets.

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