No Recurring Characters, Unique Horror Franchise

V/H/S Films

When the first V/h/s was released in 2012 it blew up, becoming a cult classic and bringing found footage horror back into style. It also provided a showcase for some up and coming directors.

Now with the second film out and more on the way this anthology series shows no sign of slowing down. Each of these movies is its own mini-masterpiece.

10/31/98

In the 10/31/98 segment, writer-director Ti West showcases his mastery of patient, dread-building storytelling. Four friends show up at a house party on Halloween and find themselves in the middle of an attempted exorcism.

Unlike the bro-criminals from Tape 56 this wraparound story’s leads are more likable. Though it may not tread new ground for the found footage genre it’s a solidly enjoyable short that helped pave the way for Radio Silence’s future work.

The V/H/S films are unique among modern horror franchises in that they don’t have any recurring characters. This makes sense for a film series that centers on found footage, but the omission still feels strange. Regardless, Hannah Fierman’s Lily is a standout. She’s an alluring, wide-eyed succubus who isn’t to be messed with.

The Subject

With a plethora of standalone horror films and spinoffs, the V/H/S franchise has proved to be a force to be reckoned with. The original debut in 2012, and since then it’s spawned five sequels, one spinoff, and a Snapchat miniseries.

The first installment is known for its use of found footage, with each scene unfolding from the perspective of a pair of camera glasses. It’s a style that’s been used by many horror (and non-horror) filmmakers since.

The film is also known for its depictions of dude-bros in perilous situations, as well as its nifty, practically achieved poltergeist effects. It’s a fun mix of fright and comedy that makes it a must-see for any horror fan. The movie was a hit and brought the anthology series back from the brink.

Slumber Party Alien Abduction

The first V/H/S, directed by Adam Wingard and starring Simon Barnett as the eponymous protagonist of a found-footage horror movie, arrived in 2012 and helped to reinvigorate the nascent genre that Paranormal Activity sparked only a few years prior. While the omnibus wasn’t the most successful installment, its mix of mundane home-video setup and bloody, feverish payoff proved that there was still life in found footage as a format.

Eduardo Sanchez, who had already established himself as a master of the format with The Blair Witch Project, returned to helm one of the most memorable segments in the entire series. His tale of a biker battling a flesh-chomping zombie horde in the midst of a wild bike ride combines the slapstick humour of a bumbling comedy with the kind of expertly choreographed blast of gore that made The Raid and The Night Comes for Us such ferocious action movies.

Second Honeymoon

The second entry from this anthology spookers focuses on a married couple whose hotel room gets invaded by an unwanted stalker. The voyeur takes out the camcorder and films strange juvenile pranks on the pair.

This is a surprisingly subversive and meta segment for this franchise. Director Ti West plays with the concept of found footage itself, making it a sort of self-reflexive device in the narrative.

This one might be the best of all the V/H/S films to date. Gareth Evans and Timo Tjahjanto, both of whom made a name for themselves with the ass-kicking Raid films, apply their relentless ferocity to this cult horror premise. The result is 30 jaw-dropping minutes of madness and violence that escalates from the ominously creepy to the scream-inducingly unnerving.

Timecrimes

Director Gareth Evans (The Raid movies) gives the V/H/S franchise his own twist with this wraparound story about a documentary crew investigating a deadly cult. It’s a great mix of nifty practical effects and screaming monster mayhem.

It seemed by this point the directors of V/H/S were getting a little tired of the found footage tapes conceit but they still managed to put together some good horror in this one. Unlike Tape 56 our leads here are actually likable bro-criminals making this a fun movie to watch.

Nacho Vigalondo’s Timecrimes is another strong entry in the series that shows the anthology format is here to stay. This one melds a sci-fi plot with a crime story and works thanks to some decent acting by the leads.

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