Found Footage horror films are all the rage, and new horror movies are trying to take a more modern approach by utilising camera equipment such as Google Glasses to ease shaky cam holdings. But in a world of smooth cinematography going back to the classic cam horror style certainly has it charms, and nothing sparks the found footage horror like the 2012 anthology V/H/S.
It can be somewhat confusing, as there is not a lot of set up between the anthologies in V/H/S, but the story centers around a group of heinous petty criminals who have been hired to break into a house and get back a V/H/S tape. As they are recording their breaking and entering, they discover the body of a dead man in the house, as well as a whole pile of video tapes. Not sure which tape to take, the thugs start watching the tapes to see which one they need to get, which sets up the connecting line between the anthologies in albeit a terribly conceived way.
Connecting story line of this aside (honestly Futurama did it better with the Professor designing a machine that showcases stories at the touch of his 'finglonger') the tapes that are 'watched' by the thugs are where V/H/S gets its success stories. Each tape is a short movie of a snuff film featuring different supernatural elements, and each short film is excellent.
There is a total of five short snuff style films throughout V/H/S, including Amateur Night, Second Honeymoon, The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger, Tuesday the 17th, and 10/31/1988. Each movie is extremely different, leaving the notion of horror up to the viewer, but all are effective in the spook-factor, whether that is the horror of being watched while you are asleep, the horror of being attacked and preyed upon by someone that you are supposed to love, or the near raping antics of those in Amateur Night.
Supernatural elements are definitely incorporated and end up being the heroes of the film, with the reptilian creep-like stare of Lily in Amateur Night creating the sense of the hunter becoming the prey and the obscure vibrating presence doing the attacking in Tuesday the 17th, but the best short film has to be the last segment, dubbed 10/31/1988.
It follows a group of guys headed out to a haunted house themed Halloween party, who don't seem to realise the lack of people is a dead giveaway that something is wrong. As the guys walk around the house, chairs move, people emerge from the shadows, and jump scares are abound, but they don't have the knowledge that the viewers have - that something in this house is actually haunted. When the group discovers what appears to be an exorcism taking place in the attic of the home they attempt to rescue the woman tied to a pyre and all Hell breaks loose as items go flying around the home, grey ghostly hands reach out for them amongst the walls and doors and windows start vanishing in front of their eyes.
The short film of 10/31/1988 is well set up and executed, with viewers feeling like they are really running through the house avoiding the ghostly hands that haunt them. It's one of the best short horror films I have ever seen and it caps off V/H/S in a way that leaves viewers wanting more.