Twists and kills- things that are always abundant in horror movies and that’s what makes them ideal fodder for the Spoiler Corner. The thing I enjoy the most about spoiler discussions is the opportunity to get into more detailed conversations about movies, but also a lot of times people are able to see something that maybe I didn’t catch or even think about on my viewing of a film.
On the block this time is the newest found footage horror film V/H/S that also happens to be a found footage anthology film. The film follows a group of guys sent to steal a VHS tape from a house, but once they get there they have no idea what tape they are supposed to steal so they watch what is on them while searching the house for more tapes. However, not only were they not prepared for what was on the tapes, but what they might be in for entering into the house.
You know the drill- if you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to be spoiled even slightly then turn away, seek the film out, watch it and come back. If you first want to read my very positive review of the film before reading then head over here. Otherwise let’s get down to business and get into every dirty detail of V/H/S. Since it is an anthology film I will be discussing each segment separately as I did with the review rather than switching back and forth from segment back into the main arc and so forth.
TAPE 56 is the main arc/wraparound story of V/H/S where a group of guys go around causing trouble by either assaulting a woman to expose her breasts or vandalizing an abandoned building. One of the guys in the group brings up a job in which they can make a lot of money so naturally they all agree- the job is to break into a house and steal one VHS tape. Once in the house they find a room with a man sitting in a chair in front of a bunch of TV’s who appears to be dead and VHS tapes strewn about. One of the guys decides to play the tape that is in the VCR to see what was on it as happens throughout the film and each tape played is one of the various segments we see and is transitioned by a blue screen with the word “Play” on screen.
Rather than sit and watch every tape some of the guys split up to search for more tapes and decide to just steal everything they can and decide later which one is the right one. One of the guys sees a mysterious guy or creature in the basement, while another notices that the “dead” man in the chair turns up missing while he is watching one of the tapes. Eventually each thief is picked off one by one either by the mysterious man or creature in the basement or by the undead man in the chair. After the last of the men has been murdered one last tape plays (entitled 10/31/98, which is the last short I will be discussing) and once that tape finishes that is where the film ends.
My questions exiting this segment as a whole, included things like what the thing in the basement was, was the man in the chair dead or just luring these guys into the house to murder and who plays the last tape? To this point my theory seems to be that maybe the last tape was the one they were looking for. There is almost no closure to the questions the segment left me with, which I actually appreciate because a good mystery makes most movies much more enjoyable and fun to talk about.
This is the second segment of V/H/S and follows a group of seemingly college age kids that have rigged a friend’s glasses with a hidden camera so that he can film them partying, picking up chicks and subsequently getting busy with them in their hotel room. While out and about at the bars drinking the kid with the glasses makes acquaintance with a girl that only repeats the words “I like you” over and over. He is noticeably weirded out by her as he watches her the rest of the night, but they end up bringing her and another girl back to the hotel. At the hotel one of the three guys is rounding second base with his girl while the kid with the glasses tries to make conversation with the weird girl and the third guy just laughs like a hyena on the couch. The guy rounding bases with his girl is cut short when his catch passes out and in a stunning display of morality decides not to continue having sex with her and instead turns his attention on the weird girl who obliges, while also motioning to the kid with glasses and the three are almost engaged in a threesome when the kid with glasses panics and runs to the bathroom. The guy on the couch also attempts to engage in a threesome which the girl is none too keen with and he joins his spectacles friend in the bathroom with a bite on his hand- and it’s all bad news from here.
The guys suspiciously exit the bathroom to see the girl attack their friend and shriek at them with what look like vampire teeth. She pulls him off the bed and resumes feasting on him while the two remaining guys retreat to the bathroom to form a game plan. One grabs the shower rod and they exit to a dark room but the girl standing in the middle with her arms folded in some form of seductive way. The guy swings the rod at her but she catches it and takes him down and starts feeding on him as well. The kid with the glasses has made his way to the other side of the room and manages to escape the room and while descending the stairs he falls, snapping his wrist in the process. The girl finds him and does not attack him, but instead tries to perform oral sex on him and is heartbroken when it appears he is none too excited about what her intentions might be down there. She retreats to the corner crying and the kid bolts out the door screaming for help and before he can get to far he is suddenly lifted into the air and we see the girl has fully transformed and is a hideous monster with wings and is carrying him away, his glasses fall and the camera cuts out as he screams.
A few thoughts on this segment- first off being that this one is one of my favorites, not just for how odd it is in the set up, but how insane and creepy it is towards the end. The second which might be the biggest talking point is just what is the “I like you” girl supposed to be. I initially thought for sure she was a vampire, but the way she feeds did not seem to be traditionally what we are used to when it comes to vampires. It is still possible this may be a fresh take on the myths, but my other more out there idea was that the girl was possibly a succubus. There are essentially holes in that theory as well because traditionally a succubus lures men into bed to kill and consume them where none of these men needed to be seduced and basically picked them up with the intentions of getting down and dirty. So those are the lingering questions I have for this segment, but beyond that I have to say I love how it ended and was blown away by how incredible the effects of the kid being lifted into the air and seeing the creature carrying him away to God knows what before the camera cuts out.
Director Ti West continues to do what he does best in this segment and that’s by creating a tense and atmospheric setting before ending the film in a sudden, brutal and disturbing fashion. This short is slow and deliberate all the way until the last basically 2 minutes when the horror just explodes on the screen. The short follows a couple out on a honeymoon and winding down in their hotel room when they hear a knock on the door from a girl wanting a ride the following morning. After the couple goes to bed an unknown person has picked up their camera and is filming his/herself stalk the couple, stealing money and dipping a toothbrush in the toilet. The next day the couple is sightseeing and the man notices his money is gone and later on expresses interest in extending their trip. That night the camera comes back on and comes up close on the man’s face and suddenly the stalker violently stabs his neck making him unable to scream. The killer proceeds to slash his throat violently until he dies and goes into the bathroom to wash their hands. It is then revealed that (in my opinion) the man’s killer was his wife and the camera operator was the stalker from the night before and is another woman- the two then make out. The segment ends with the lesbian lovers in the car and the wife asks if she deleted the footage off the camera.
Loved the tension in this segment and the use of sound, found the slow build very effective and I was not expecting the kill to come when it did. I was so wrapped up in the tension and the stalking scenes that I literally forgot about the establishing scenes with the fortune teller that foreshadows the rest of the short which is why the twist at first seemed to come out of nowhere for me. Looking back I love that little bit of foreshadowing and the dynamic of that short after the twist.
TUESDAY THE 17TH
There really isn’t a whole lot to spoil on this short as it’s pretty straight forward, but we will see how it goes. It follows four friends (two guys and two girls) driving in the middle of a wooded area that stop at a lake to do a little bit of swimming and weed smoking when one of the girls tells a story about a killer that slaughtered a group of kids. Two of the friends go off by themselves and the killer attacks by throwing a knife that pierces the girl’s skull and out the eye socket and then attacks and kills the nerdy guy with her. The killer at this point you will notice is shown as though he is just a massive technical glitch and is never seen clearly, but the effect is pretty awesome. Back with the other two friends the girl is explaining to the jock guy that she brought them there as bait as you can just barely see the killer/glitch approaching in the background and comes up behind the jock and cuts his throat. The girl takes off running with the killer in chase and we see that she has set up a variety of traps to catch the killer that slaughtered her friends she mentioned in the story. When one of the traps finally stops the killer the girl thinks she’s won but when she sees one of the previous victims somehow still walking she looks away and when she looks back the killer is gone and he attacks and kills her.
This short evokes a lot of FRIDAY THE 13TH vibes with a killer that seems to be able to teleport everywhere and is invincible while hunting stupid teens around a lake. I really dig the style used for the killer which was one of the only redeeming factors for this short aside from the kills. Not my favorite short, but it is very entertaining despite how bad the actors are.
THE SICK THING THAT HAPPENED TO EMILY WHEN SHE WAS YOUNGER
Here’s one of the other shorts likely to incite arguments and other discussions, lately due to the twist. This is the online chat/Skype segment between a boyfriend and girlfriend. The girl expresses concern that her new apartment may be haunted and we see her showing him several instances where any normal person would never deny that the place may indeed be haunted- however, the boyfriend’s disbelief is forgiven at the end with the twist. The girl also has a moment where she has mutilated her arm attempting to find out what a bump is that she feels under her skin that her boyfriend says to leave alone and that he’ll look at it when he comes to visit. Eventually on a night where she is trying to make contact with the ghosts she falls unconscious with the ghostly kids around her and the boyfriend leaves his computer and emerges through her door a few seconds later. He takes a scalpel and makes an incision in her back and pulls out a weird looking fetus while talking to an unseen force. He asks things that range from the fetus being half human, how many more times he has to do this to her and that he’s going to have to break some bones to make it look like she had an accident. When we next see the girl she’s in a cast with bruises saying a doctor diagnosed her with schizophrenia. Then when their conversation ends and the Skype screens come back up we see the man is now talking to a new girl and the cycle is going to start over with her.
I have almost no theory for this segment, I know the bump in the skin is a tracker, but beyond that I have no idea if this is supposed to hint at aliens or what. If it is aliens then the fact that we can actually see ghost kids kind of confuses me unless this guy is aborting alien fetuses and these kids are the ghost of those aborted kids or if this is something else entirely. By all means feel free to weigh in with your theories because the twist really through me.
This is the last tape we see and the last segment that leads us to the credits and is also one of my favorite if not my overall favorite of the bunch. This short follows four guys dressed up for Halloween on their way to a party and one is rigged with a nanny cam. When they get to the house where the party is supposed to be no one answers the door so they go in through the back and find no one downstairs. They assume the house is rigged to be a fun haunted house deal with flickering lights and arms that reach out from the walls and are having a good laugh about it. When they go upstairs they hear chanting coming from the attic so they go up and see a group of guys chanting around a girl that is tied up. The men chanting yell at them to leave at which time you can hear a deep creepy growl and an unseen force begins lifting people into the air and the four friends try running out of the house as doors are flying around, ghostly handprints follow them around and dishes are thrown at them. They are almost home free when they decide to go back for the girl and on their way out they find they can no longer leave through the ground floor doors and go to the basement where hands are reaching from the walls and ground to stop them. They get out through the basement door and get in the car to go find the girl help and as they drive all of a sudden there is interference and the car stalls to a stop. The guys begin panicking as the girl has vanished and is now on the outside of the car with a demonic face and they can’t get out of the car. We see they are stopped on train tracks with a train approaching and the camera cuts out as the car is about to be hit.
Two theories for this segment- one being that the guys in the attic are attempting an exorcism on this girl and are unable to complete it thanks to the friends and the second being that they are a cult performing a ritual that causes this girl to be possessed by a demon. I find the exorcism to be more likely as if the men were a cult they would probably have just captured and killed the guys rather than telling them to go away and the fact that when they are distracted and stop chanting they begin getting attacked by the unseen force.
As a whole I really loved V/H/S even in spite of issues I had with certain segments. If you’re still reading and haven’t seen it then first off shame on you and second I still recommend checking it out and seeing it for yourself to form your own theories. Feel free to leave comments expressing if you agree with any of my theories or want to chime in with your own and also tell me what you thought of the movie! I look forward to discussing this one with you!
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)