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Review: In 'V/H/S,' some found footage should remain lost

The indie anthology should have been a little choosier in what horrors it included.

October 04, 2012|By Robert Abele
  • A scene from "V/H/S."
A scene from "V/H/S." (Handout )

The found-footage horror genre hits eye-strain levels with "V/H/S," an indie anthology of six what's-on-this-tape films from nine directors, featuring mainly two kinds of images: someone talking to a camera lens, and something horrific barely visible through a shaky camera lens.

There are some unholy pleasures: David Bruckner's tale of loutish amateur-porn wannabes (the camera's hidden in the nerd's glasses) who pick up the wrong girl is a grimly propulsive lick of mythic vengeance; the talented Ti West's second-honeymoon story, blissfully free of agitated camerawork, gets at the creepy vibe of road motel rooms; and Joe Swanberg's non-Mumblecore riff on video chats and haunted apartments has the crisp dread of a chilling short story.

PHOTOS: A brief hitstory of found footage films

The others, by Adam Wingard (whose crime-spree videographers coming upon a cache of tapes is the connective tissue), Glenn McQuaid and the collective Radio Silence, are heavy on the technique of jittery POV and lo-fi effects over logic or mood or performance, and suffer accordingly.

Had "V/H/S" been a nasty jolt of three, it might have been memorable, but at nearly two hours, the gimmick punctures a hole in itself, causing ambience bleed-out. Recommended cure: a tripod

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"V/H/S." MPAA rating: R for bloody violence, strong sexuality, graphic nudity, pervasive language and some drug use. Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes. At the Nuart, West Los Angeles.

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