So I was finally able to see V/H/S the other day. I’ve been hearing about the film and all the hoo-ha that’s surrounded it (people having fits in the cinema, ambulances being called, etc.), so I was keen to see what all the fuss was about. I… think I enjoyed it. I have to say, I suspect that all the people who took ill while watching it did so because of the VERY shaky camera that’s used almost incessantly. This is not a film for people who suffer from motion sickness. However, it did have some genuinely creepy moments. I think I’m one of the few people out there who isn’t entirely sick of the found footage sub-genre if it’s done well, and I felt like V/H/S‘s anthology structure worked quite nicely. A lot of these films get kind of ridiculous when someone is STILL filming after an hour or so of horrible things happening to them, so having a series of stories that only last about 10-15 minutes was pretty good. All the actors were relatively unknown, and they handled the material pretty capably. The basic idea of the film is that a bunch of hooligans are hired to break into a house and steal a certain videotape. When they do so, they find the owner of the house dead, and piles of tapes, which they watch, each containing one of the stories that make up the rest of the anthology. Each segment was provided by a different prominent genre director. Okay, so now we’re going into spoiler territory, so if you haven’t seen the film and you don’t want to know what happens, you might want to stop reading. Also, fair warning, I’m going to get all analytical on your ass, and I fully accept that I’m probably reading far too much into the whole thing. Okay? Okay. The film really made me think about female exploitation, more specifically in horror. It’s something that I, as a woman, have thought about quite a bit, and I think it’s important to think about it and not dismiss it. Why am I so drawn to a genre that is kind of notorious for the objectification and abuse of female characters? For me personally, I think it’s because the exploitation is made obvious. It’s not trying to disguise itself as something else, and we’re forced to pay attention to it. V/H/S has several incidents of pretty discomforting female abuse. In the first few minutes of the wrap-around story(Dir. Adam Wingard), we’re shown the house-breakers assault a woman in a car park and expose her breast for the camera. The mini stories also have recurring themes of female exploitation. The first segment (Dir. David Bruckner) follows three guys who go out on the town, one of them wearing glasses with a camera hidden in them, with the idea of taking girls home and secretly filming them. So far so creepy, but one of the girls passes out when they get her back to their apartment, and the other, bug-eyed and jittery, doesn’t seem comfortable at all. That doesn’t stop two of the guys trying to have sex with her, but that doesn’t go down so well as it turns out she’s not exactly human and doesn’t take kindly to their behaviour. Another segment (Dir. Ti West) follows a young couple on holiday, who appear to be stalked by a sinister young woman who breaks into their room at night and films them. There’s an especially creepy part where a small knife is trailed over the sleeping woman’s body. However, once again, things aren’t quite what they seem. One story (Dir. Joe Swanburg) records a couple’s nightly conversations via webcam (a welcome respite from all the shaky camera stuff). The woman believes that her new apartment is haunted, and her sceptical boyfriend tries to reassure her. This was, for me, the section with the most sympathetic characters. The girl was kind of adorable, and brave in a believable way, and so when you find out the truth it’s actually kind of heart breaking. The other two segments cover, respectively, a group of friends making an ill-advised trip to the woods (Dir. Glenn McQuaid), and some Halloween revellers who stumble across what appears to be a Satanic sacrifice(Dir. Radio Silence). The common themes throughout seem to be the objectification of women, and women not being all they seem.
So I really am probably reading waaay too much into all this, but it’s a subject I’ve always found really interesting, and V/H/S kind of brought it all to the fore for me. Anyway, while I did find some sections to be weaker than others, I thought the film was pretty enjoyable overall. Though again, if you have motion sickness, approach with caution.