Saturday, June 23, 2012

1st annual Oak Cliff Film Festival review: V/H/S

Directed by: David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence, Joe Swanberg, Ti West, andAdam Wingard
Written by: Glenn McQuaid, and David Bruckner
StarringCalvin Reeder, Lane Hughes, and Adam Wingard
SynopsisWhen a group of douche bags are hired to rob a house, they come upon a dead body and a huge pile of VHS tapes. One by one, they all start to watch them, as you do during a robbery.

Javi here with our sole review out of the first Oak Cliff Film Festival. As I mentioned in the previous post, there was a bit of mix up on my part, and I didn't plan accordingly to be able to attend all nights, but I took some time off from bear wrestling to watch one of the late night movies, V/H/S. I really wish I could've gone to more films, and I hope that the Film Festival was a success seeing as we need more events to draw an artistic community into the spotlight. One thing I did find a bit curioois was how during our screening, there seemed to be more people that were wanting to drink and party than to actually see the movie. I'm not sure if it was because everyone was just wanting to socialize, but it sure came off as a "see and be seen" type of atmosphere rather than a movie festival.

Anyway, here is our review of V/H/S:

Javi: This was a pretty hyped movie coming out of Sundance.

Jonesy: I'm pretty amazed it didn't play at Fantastic Fest, but that was way back in September, so maybe it wasn't ready?

Javi: Since there's not that much marketing for it yet, here's a rundown: V/H/S is a horror anthology along the lines of TRICK-R-TREAT, to put it in modern context. It's all based around the "found footage" gimmick. Since anthology films are pretty rare enough as it is, to have one that's based on the gimmick of found footage is pretty crazy. How do you think it worked out?

Jonesy: I personally love the found footage gimmick. I know that people are getting pretty tired of it, but I guess I'm just a sucker. The gimmick worked for this because all of the shorts did found footage in a pretty unique way. A few of them were corny like the set up where a couple filming every moment of their honeymoon. You don't see anthologies very often, but I do like how there was a "main story arc" intertwined with all of the different segments.

Javi: I was worried myself because, if I remember correctly, TRICK R TREAT was running all of the stories at the same time. How could the found footage aspect work? I figured they all would have been connected, but I like how it turned out for the most part. However, I wish that they would have stuck with the segments within a bigger story structure because the last two segments really don't make sense, and it lends to a very uneven feel to the movie. Let's talk about the movie segment-by-segment:

1st one: Bros give nerdy guy glasses with a camera and microphone built in so he can hook up with a girl and film a porno.

Jonesy: As soon as the first segment started with the three guys, I wanted the two friends to die.

Javi: It's baffling to me that somehow there's this technology that I didn't know existed like prescription glasses with a built-in camera and unlimited battery and run time. It was very interesting in its plot twist. It stuck to a very mid-2000's/late 1990's horror movie cliches, where if you're not a nerdy virgin, then you're a complete rapist. And this is a problem with the movie in general, mind you. I thought to myself, "I know I don't like these guys, but I've seen their character types before, and I want them all to die."

Jonesy: They seem like rejects from PROJECT X. That was a good first one to go with because the shorts got weirder and weirder.  I honestly thought all of the other movies besides the Ti West segment, which is the next one, were freakier.

2nd segment: A couple in their cross country honeymoon are disturbed by runaway college student:

Jonesy: I didn't like this boyfriend and girlfriend one at all.

Javi: Were they boyfriend and girlfriend or were they married? The guy had a ring. Besides, I don't think the Grand Canyon is really good spot to take your mistress to. I really wanted to skip to the next one. This was just a boring segment.

Jonesy: You didn't think it was even a little creepy?

Javi: No at all. If anything, it was a little sexy in the middle segment.

Jonesy: You can definitely tell this is a Ti West segment because just like everyone of his movies, there's a lot of nothing going on, and then in the last minutes some action finally happens, and then it's over.

3rd segment: Four friends go up to the mountains for a weekend getaway.

Javi: This was my favorite segment.

Jonesy: Why was it your favorite?

Javi: Mostly the visual effects. It was so freaky that it gave me chills.

Jonesy: Yeah, and what was interesting was that you knew that there was more to the story that was being presented. You could tell what was going on because of wahat was being presented, but you wanted to see more of what had happened.

Javi: There were certain parts of the segment that sort of didn't make sense. Will the antagonist only present himself when there's teenage stereotypes around?  And on a technical level, this segment was my favorite. I like the visual representation of how the villain shows up.

Jonesy: I agree. I loved how they establish the fact that when the static in the camera starts you know shit is going down. And then you begin to anticipate for it more.

4th segment: Girl calls her boyfriend on Skype when she starts to hear things in her apartment. 

Javi: This one didn't make sense to me. If we're supposed to be aligning the main story, then how the hell are you watching a Skype recording on VHS tape?

Jonesy: Maybe the guy who collects these VHS tapes is super nostalgic? I liked this segment as a standalone story because of its use of technology. This "found footage" made the most sense unlike some of the other ones where you really question why they're holding the camera when crazy stuff is happening.  You see why the main girl would call her boyfriend for support when the craziness begins.

Javi: Now that I think about it, this was probably my 2nd favorite story. I liked the way that a lot of information is being thrown out at you without it being explicitly explained.

Jonesy: She's the only sympathetic character in the entire movie. It seemed to me that this was a sort of "FRINGE" experiment that was going on. It wasn't very clear. I want to know more!

5th segment: Dudes want to party instead they find a fucked up haunted house.

Jonesy: I enjoyed this one a lot more.

Javi: Yeah, this one was the most visually striking pieces. The way I see it, if that moronic book, HOUSE OF LEAVES, ever got turned into a movie, this is what the movie would look like. I almost have to wonder why the spirits haunting the house were hurting people? These guys seemed to be pretty stand up dudes.

Jonesy: Maybe it's one of those deals where the ghosts are either Casper or flat out evil.

Javi: Overall the segment was pretty good. I thought it was interesting that ghosts haunting a house were able to manipulate outside objects which never really happens because the ghosts are always subjected to inside the house.

Jonesy: I thought that this was the best camera concepts where the guy dresses as a bear with a camera as "Nanny Cam".

Javi: Or a pedobear costume.

Jonesy: But either way, I think that it's an interesting twist on the whole haunted house set up.

Final thoughts:

Javi: Overall, the concept worked pretty decently.

Jonesy: But I was confused why the main story douche bags went into the house where the movie takes place?

Javi: They were getting paid to rob it. It was one of those "one last job situations" because they're basically all pieces of shit that assault chicks and post it on the internet.

Jonesy: A big problem of the movie is that a lot of things happen in between the VHS segments, and you don't really have the time to think and register the full situation. The problem is that since all the main douches look the same don't get developed at all, you never have a chance to care about any of them.

Javi: I agree. I want to now re-watch the movie so I can pick up on some of the details. I think that if the last two short segments had made more sense within the context of the bigger story, I would've liked the movie a little more. It was just a distracting issue especially so late in the movie.

Jonesy: And as a side note, stay away from any trailers for this film. The less you see, the more fun you'll have going into it.

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