Tag Archives: Joe Swanberg

Review: V/H/S

DVD Review

VHS dvd 001I do enjoy anthology films but I am getting a bit bored with found footage but this had some positive views so I was hoping for the best. I was a bit disappointed to find that this film was a bit more style over substance and that style is poorly lit badly filmed shots and confusing action scenes. he characterization is shallow and clichéd and the stories are very hit and miss.

The wraparound film is called Tape 56 and is the weakest of the stories but then that is not uncommon in normal anthology films. It is full of shaky cam and poor lighting which combine to make things very confusing and it’s difficult to even see who is doing what. It also has the poorest excuse for filming anything at all. There are four complete pricks that run about smashing stuff up and assaulting women and exposing their breasts. They do this for pitiful amount money from a porn site and one the pricks tells them about a job that could earn them much more money for just a single night’s work. They break into a large house to steal a single VHS cassette tape. The house is empty except for a room with a wall full of TV sets and video players and the body of an old man sitting in an armchair. As they hunt for the tape the different arseholes come into this room to play a VHS tape and that gives us the other five stories.

Amateur Night – This story also has some really obnoxious main characters, three guys who are going out to get drunk, pick up women for sex and film it with a secret camera hidden in a pair of spectacles. This makes it a bit easier to see what’s happening and the lighting is better. They make their small nerdy friend Clint (Drew Sawyer) wear the glasses and go out drinking until Patrick (Joe Sykes) gets so drunk and rowdy that they get tossed out and go back to motel room with two women they picked up. Lisa (Jas Sams) is pretty normal and has partied with Patrick all night. The other woman Lily (Hannah Fierman) is a very strange woman with wide eyes that never seem to blink and she was the one who picked up Clint. Back in the room the third arsehole Shane (Mike Donlan) makes out with Lisa while Patrick rolls about drunk on the couch. Clint sits on the second bed with Lily and she states right into him telling him she likes him. Without giving away anything else all I can say is that things turn out very badly for the three arseholes. This story is okay and I liked the ending. The guys are really are convincing at playing dicks and it really does have the feel of guys filming their sleazy night out. It has good use of the found footage format to give the story credibility.

Second Honeymoon – A married couple are travelling across the country together and the wife Stephanie (Sophia Takal) is filming the highlights of their trip across the United States. From their chat they seem like a normal couple and apart from the husband Sam (Joe Swanberg) trying to get Stephanie to pose topless for the video in their motel room there isn’t a lot of tension between them. Someone knocks on the door and Sam opens and speaks to whoever it is bit we don’t see them. Sam seems confused when he comes away from the door. Apparently a young woman wanted them to give her a lift the next morning when they are leaving and this incident seems upset them so much that Stephanie wants to call the police which seems to be an over-reaction. I don’t even know why Stephanie is still filming right up until they go to bed and Sam turns out the light. The camera comes back on but Stephanie and Sam are still sleeping in their beds and it is operated by an intruder to pulls back Stephanie’s covers to perve over her arse with a knife. The intruder then goes steals money from Sam’s wallet before going into the toilet and rinsing Sam’s toothbrush in the toilet bowl. We catch of a figure wearing one of those creepy translucent masks. Next day Sam and Stephanie carry on with no knowledge of the intruder and when Sam discovers the missing money he blames it on Stephanie despite her claiming innocence. This segment has very abrupt and unexpected ending but it was a bit flat and seemed just like some things that happened. The scene with intruder was a bit unsettling. The shaky cam found footage wasn’t too bad here

Tuesday 17th – Four young people drive up to a remote lake to hang out. This is the idea of Wendy (Norma C. Quinones) who said she used to come here before. The camera is being mainly carried by Joey (Drew Moerlein) and the others are Spider (Jason Yachanin) and Samantha (Jason Yachanin). This is filmed in daylight and it’s normally clear what’s going on. The video keeps getting flashes of interference showing murdered bodies lying in different places but they see nothing there at the time. Joey starts getting creeped out by Wendy who tells them a story of a group of people who got killed at the lake then implies it was a joke to scare them. But there really is something out there and it wants to kill them. This segment was okay in parts and there was a bit of a twist to old story of the serial killer hunting college kids in the woods and the flash of male nudity didn’t hurt.

The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She was Younger – This segment was probably the strongest because it kept it relatively simple – a webcam conversation between a young woman Emily (Helen Rogers) and her boyfriend James (Daniel Kaufman) who is a medical student studying at a college across the country. Emily has recently moved to a new apartment and has been hearing strange noises at night which make her think the place is haunted. She contacts James in the middle of the night and he sees some child-sized figure appear to run across the corner of the screen but the next day he‘s ready to explain it away as some sort of reflection. James is very worried that Emily is getting obsessive about things like the ghost and also a lump she can feel under the skin of her arm. Emily has a history of such behaviour and James’s fears seem to be confirmed which she starts digging into the flesh of her arm with a knife. This was the best of the segment with some the best characterization and the ending was silly. It has the most natural excuse for the video being made and there isn’t too much shaky cam

10/31/1998 – this segment is another one where I really can’t remember the character names. Four college age guys are going to Halloween party and they are in costume. The video camera in this case is carried by the guy in a bear suit and there another guy in a soldier costume, one dressed as a pirate and I can’t even remember what the fourth guy was wearing. They are looking for the address of the party and there is a mix-up so it is probable that they have gone to the wrong address. No-one answers the door so they look for another way in. They can’t see anyone inside but all the lights are on. Inside they hear some really creepy sounds coming from upstairs and they are startled by creepy things happening so they reckon it’s a haunted house set up and carry on upstairs. It’s not hard to guess that this is not a cheesy Halloween party but very real. This segment was filmed with a lot of shaky cam and that is not good but the story was okay with decent special effects and another very abrupt ending.

Overall the film was okay but it is not the fantastic film that I’d heard about. It really suffers from the flaws of its style with poor film quality and lighting and action scenes that were often confusing. A lot of the male characters were unlike-able and misogynistic and in most segments their deaths were caused by female characters which might be some sort of statement. While it has some female nudity it also features male nudity but there is very little about this film that could seem erotic. I also have to say I’m puzzled by use of the VHS concept in this film since in every segment the natural format for the video is digital but then searching for a hard-drive or a memory stick is probably not as open to scenes of pointless confusing crawling about in a dark cellar for looking for VHS cassettes. Rating 6.0/10

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Posted by on February 6, 2013 in Entertainment, Film


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