Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin [Other horror films: Devil’s Due (2014), Southbound (2015, segments ‘The Way In’ & ‘The Way Out’), Ready or Not (2019), Scream (2022), Scream VI (2023)], David Bruckner [Other horror films: The Signal (2007), Southbound (2015, segment ‘The Accident’), The Ritual (2017), The Night House (2020), Hellraiser (2022)], Tyler Gillett [Other horror films: Devil’s Due (2014), Southbound (2015, segments ‘The Way In’ & ‘The Way Out’), Ready or Not (2019), Scream (2022), Scream VI (2023)], Justin Martinez [Other horror films: Southbound (2015, segments ‘The Way In’ & ‘The Way Out’)], Glenn McQuaid [Other horror films: I Sell the Dead (2008), Chilling Visions: 5 States of Fear (2014)], Joe Swanberg [Other horror films: Silver Bullets (2011)], Chad Villella [Other horror films: Southbound (2015, segments ‘The Way In’ & ‘The Way Out’)], Ti West [Other horror films: The Roost (2005), Trigger Man (2007), The House of the Devil (2009), Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever (2009), The Innkeepers (2011), The ABCs of Death (2012, segment ‘M is for Miscarriage’), The Sacrament (2013), X (2022), Pearl (2022)] & Adam Wingard [Other horror films: Home Sick (2007), Pop Skull (2007), A Horrible Way to Die (2010), You’re Next (2011), The ABCs of Death (2012, segment ‘Q Is for Quack’), V/H/S/2 (2013, segment ‘Phase I Clinical Trials’), Blair Witch (2016)]
I have to admit that, after seeing this one twice, I struggle incredibly hard to see the appeal. It’s not as though the base idea isn’t worth attempting, but the final product here comes across to me as a total mess.
Obviously, the biggest problem here is that almost none of the stories are good. Even the framing sequence is flimsy (and the low-budget British anthology Screamtime from 1983 did a similar set-up better), and of the five segments (“Amateur Night”, “Second Honeymoon”, “Tuesday the 17th”, “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger”, and “10/31/98”), only two are passable, and that’s being damn generous.
The only thing “Amateur Night” had going for it were occasionally decent special effects, and they faltered horribly come the ending (those wings, tho). “Tuesday the 17th” struck me as a total waste, if I’m being honest. “Second Honeymoon” tried, what with the plot twist, but as the plot twist had little in the way of set-up, I’d say that it failed horribly. “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger” had the most potential out of all of these, but I found the ending laughably atrocious.
“10/31/98” was decent. I think what really pulled that one miles above the others here were the special effects. I didn’t love the story, but once the guys got to the house, we did see some creepy things (hands coming out of the walls, random birds flying by, that random type of stuff), and I appreciated the vibe. I do think the ending (which is also the final scene of the movie, because the framing story doesn’t frame around the final segment, because of course it doesn’t) was lackluster, but by this point, I’m just happy that the movie has finally ended.
And that’s another thing that needs to be mentioned. Not only are most of the stories severely lacking in enjoyable content, the movie is almost two hours. Most of that just had to be wasted time, as if you edit just the interesting things out of each respective story, there’s no way you get more than 15 minutes of content, and again, that’s being quite generous.
One last thing before hitting on one of the few positives of the film – there are almost no likable characters in this whole film. The framing story just gives us guys who routinely sexually assault women and laughs it off as a joke, which isn’t too different from the guys we got in “Amateur Night.” The characters in “Tuesday the 17th” were more generic-slasher types, and were at least bearable, but aside from a single character, there’s no one in V/H/S who is even worth rooting for.
That person is Emily (played by Helen Rogers), from “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger.” Rogers does a great job with her character, and gives us someone quite sympathetic, and her emotional performance near the end of the segment was great. Really, she’s the only performance in this film that even came close to standing out, so definitely I give kudos to her.
Otherwise, this movie is just awful. For the life of me, I cannot see why there seems to be a decently-sized contingent of people who enjoy this one. On the one hand, I am glad that there exists people who get more out of this movie than I ever have (as I have seen this twice now, and I wasn’t impressed either time), but on the other, I just don’t get it. I don’t see what’s impressive here, and when I wasn’t bored, I just felt that, save for some occasionally-good special effects, the story was uninspired.
V/H/S may just be one of those movies that wasn’t meant for me. I didn’t enjoy seeing it again, and I think it’s safe to say that there’s not many circumstances that exist that’d cause me to watch this again in the future.