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.
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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
"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.