A group of young troublemakers are hired to steal a rare video tape. They discover a corpse sitting amidst a collection of tapes and must view them, looking for the right one, setting up one chilling tale after another.
Just when you thought there was nothing new left in the found footage genre, along comes something new. This novel approach becomes a found footage anthology within a found footage film and really turns the style on its head.
After a slow start, which introduces us to the cast – who are basically a bunch of “Jackass” rejects – the guys take a break from random vandalism and “America’s Funniest Home Videos” outtakes to make some money stealing a video tape. All they know about the tape is that they will “know it when they see it”. They break into a house, find a dead body amidst the tapes and decide to carry on, watching the tapes and looking for their prize.
Each tape is its own found footage tale of the macabre and the terrifying. As with any anthology, some stories are better than others. As with any found footage film, it’s cheap and some moments strain the imagination as far as why someone would be filming. But these are forgivable, because the whole thing works together well. There’s even some subtle dread that makes its way into the over-arcing story and forces the viewer to pay attention through the “down time”.
While not without its warts, “V/H/S” blazes a trail through what was beginning to look like scorched and salted earth and makes it fertile again. It’s what found footage films originally aimed to be yet rarely accomplished: terrifying in its realism and menacing in its rawness.