David Bruckner

VHS Bruckner

It turns out that someone else fainted while watching V/H/S. This time it happened at the Friday 9:40pm Nuart screening in Los Angeles, but tales of people getting sick floated around after the film hit Sundance and caused a moviegoer to pass out. It’s not really an epidemic, but the thing is, both got sick during the same scene. So what scene could hit viewers that hard? I contacted writer/producer Simon Barrett to ask what spot it was, and for those who have seen the movie, it probably won’t come as a surprise. If you haven’t seen the movie, consider yourself mildly spoiler warned.


Editor’s note: Sundance screamfest V/H/S finally hits theaters this week after a successful VOD run, so here’s a re-run of our original review, first posted on January 26, 2012. Chilling! The brainchild of producer Brad Miska, horror anthology film V/H/S features five shorts (and one wrap-around story) from a variety of genre directors, writers, and actors handily proves that the found footage genre is far from dead and there’s plenty of new material to bleed. The film’s “wrap-around” section features a group of Jackass-inspired wankers who get their kicks by filming mayhem and destruction. Dispatched by a mysterious person to break into a house and steal something, they agree – partly for the laughs, partly for the pay-off. The item they must procure? A simple, singular VHS tape. The actual mission? Multi-level and rife with unexpected complications.


“Fangoria” as a gateway drug, YouTube fame leading to feature work, a magical 1998 Camry, the way porn plays with our minds, filming “Safety Second” style, and most of all trying to make found footage horror not feel like boring home movies. The filmmakers behind V/H/S (which is available on iTunes and VOD today) wanted to increase the ratio of scares per minute by combining the new popular subgenre with a throwback anthology style. On this week’s podcast, we mirror that anthology style in order to talk with many of the minds behind the punk horror explosion. Download Episode #147


VHS Horror Movie

The red band trailer for V/H/S – the new horror anthology from a slew of indie writers and directors – was excellent, but there’s something magical about a green band trailer for scary flicks that makes a movie sing. The limitations either mean the trailer will sink miserably or soar to pants-wetting heights. This feature does the latter. From Adam Wingard, Simon Barrett, Radio Silence, Joe Swanberg, Dennis McQuaid, and David Bruckner, the movie wraps five horror tales inside a story about thieves trying to find a mysterious video tape amongst a pile of dangerous found footage. Plus, it might be the first movie to have two forward slashes in its title. Check out the new trailer for yourself:


Anthology horror films are an inconsistent genre by their very nature, but when they work well the results can be fantastically creepy entertainment. Films like Asylum, Creepshow, and Trick ‘r Treat are well written excursions into fun-filled terror. Unfortunately, the anthology film is in decline, and of the handful that do find release only a few manage any degree of consistent quality. Sadly, V/H/S is more miss than hit. The movie features five stories plus a wraparound tale all presented in the “found footage” style, but while the last two segments are pretty damn cool and terrifying the initial three (and wraparound) leave a lot to be desired. They each have a singular standout element, but it’s never enough to make you forget how lacking in scares and thrills they are. (And the third one should have been cut all together.) Much like its home video format namesake, V/H/S chooses running time over quality, and the result is a movie that never really finds its footing until roughly two-thirds of it has passed. But once it hits that second to last story the scares, fun and wide-eyed thrills come fast and hard making the film well worth a watch…provided you don’t mind wading through mediocrity to get there.


Fresh off of making one audience member pass out and another one puke into a bucket at Sundance, V/H/S has found a home with Magnolia, and it’s a matched made in hellacious heaven. The horror flick is both an anthology, which seems to be a rising trend, and a found footage movie that has many critics claiming that it refreshes the genre considerably. It’s made up of vignettes from writer/director David Bruckner (The Signal), writer/director Glenn McQuaid (I Sell the Dead), writing/directing team Radio Silence, actor/director Joe Swanberg (Autoerotic, The Zone), writer/director Ti West (House of the Devil, The Innkeepers), director Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way to Die, You’re Next), writer Simon Barrett (A Horrible Way to Die, You’re Next), and writer Nicholas Tecosky. The story focuses on a team hired by a mystery person (or persons) to break into a broken down house to steal a rare VHS tape. Horror ensues. So it’s a found footage horror film with an interstitial device of people looking for found footage. Already off to a good start. This is another ear on the necklace of the You’re Next team of Wingard, Swanberg and Barrett who will see that film released in October of this year as well. Thank god that V/H/S will be seen outside of Sundance. These are the kinds of horror filmmakers that deserve to blow up big. Personally, I can’t wait for the inevitable George Lucas mash-up trailer, V/H/S 1138.



The equivalent of the wallflower you knew in high school that blossomed into a college beauty, here are eleven films that flew under the radar in 2008.

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published: 12.22.2014
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