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V/H/S

Blu Ray

  • Score
    59
    from 2 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • V/H/S polarizes: some see it as tiring found-footage; others, a cult gem with unique scares.

    V/H/S Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    69
  • Film intentionally flaunts video imperfections from low-res sources for aesthetic effect; exaggerated in post-production yet faithfully delivers its concept in 1080p, earning a solid 4/5.

  • Audio
    69
  • V/H/S' audio impresses with a DTS-HD 5.1 mix, delivering ambient, spooky sounds despite imperfections. Dialogue is clear enough, with no score but incidental music, true to its lo-fi horror intent.

  • Extra
    54
  • V/H/S special features combine entertaining commentaries, a happier alternate ending, behind-the-scenes insights, extensive filmmaker interviews, and promotional content, offering an inclusive deep dive into the film's creation and concepts.

  • Movie
    59
  • V/H/S critiques found-footage horror's clichés with mixed success; a shaky-cam anthology with hits and misses, craving innovation and consistency.

    Video: 69

    The video presentation of "V/H/S" on Blu-ray is a unique case where traditional metrics of picture quality evaluation don't apply straightforwardly due to its intentional low-fidelity aesthetic. Shot on an eclectic mix of low-resolution camcorders, VHS tapes, and spy glasses, the video is a deliberate homage to the era where analog glitches were the norm. From blurriness to dropped frames, macro-blocking to blown-out highlights, virtually every conceivable form of visual imperfection is not only present but amplified. This serves to reinforce the film's found-footage horror vibe. However, some of the video-related quirks seem to have been exaggerated in post-production beyond what was originally captured by the cameras, a choice that may detract from the authenticity but nonetheless faithfully aligns with the filmmakers' intent. The 1080p/AVC-encoded presentation captures this aesthetic faithfully, presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, achieving a look reminiscent of 80s hand-made VHS films despite its high-definition format.

    While the colors are often muted and details fuzzy, mirroring the soft and soupy textures typical of the medium it emulates, the overall execution is commendably accurate to the creators' vision. The array of defects - including crushed shadows, unlimited banding, dirt, and image blur - are all integral to the film's appeal, transforming what would be considered detriment in any other context into a testament to 'V/H/S''s unique charm. Although the video transfer may know it’s in HD, its heart lies in capturing the essence of VHS-quality visuals. Emphasizing these imperfections in post-production might raise questions about inauthenticity for some viewers, but it undeniably contributes to a specific nostalgic atmosphere that the film aims to convey. In essence, while the video quality exhibits every possible flaw by design, it succeeds remarkably in evoking the intended aesthetic, making it a peculiar yet brilliant execution within its genre.

    Audio: 69

    The audio presentation of "V/H/S" on its Blu-ray release offers a surprisingly detailed and atmospheric experience given the film's low-fidelity premise. Delivered through a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, it exceeds expectations by not confining itself to the mono or stereo audio that one might anticipate from the film’s old-school, camcorder-based shooting style. Instead, viewers are treated to a full 5.1 mix, adding layers of immersion to each segment. This mix effectively utilizes the rear channels for ambient sounds—ranging from background noise in bars to the eerie, unseen movements and electronic distortions that are a staple of horror ambiance. Although the dialogue may suffer occasionally from minor imperfections like hisses and cracks, making it not always crystal clear, it generally remains intelligible throughout.

    Interestingly, despite the film's lo-fi aesthetic, the creators opted not to lean solely on in-camera audio capturing, broadening the auditory experience without betraying the film’s authentic feel. Most of the sonic action is directed through the front channels, with the rear channels selectively engaged to enhance the film's atmospheric qualities with ghostly sounds and real-world ambiances. The absence of a traditional musical score—aside from incidental music emanating from radios or bar scenes—further grounds "V/H/S" in its intended realism while facilitating an unsettling viewer experience.

    Overall, the audio mixes' fidelity to the filmmakers' vision garners commendation for not only preserving but enhancing the intended auditory experience. Seasoned with occasional electronic and ambient contributions from the rear channels, it tactfully amplifies the suspense and horror without ever seeming out of place against the film's visually gritty backdrop. Embracing its imperfections as part of its charm, the audio presentation impressively supports the film's eerie narrative and stylized visuals, making it a commendable aspect of "V/H/S"'s Blu-ray release.

    Extra: 54

    The Blu-ray release of "V/H/S" offers a trove of extras that enhance the viewing experience and deepen the appreciation for this unique film. The standout feature is the Cast & Crew Commentary, providing a mix of entertaining anecdotes and laughter, though it's more enjoyable than informative, notably missing Ti West. Another intriguing inclusion is the Alternate Ending for "10/31/98," presenting a distinct, happier conclusion to the film. The disc also delivers a blend of behind-the-scenes looks with "More Tuesday the 17th" and "Amateur Night Balloon Night," offering insight into the filming process. Extended interviews in both "Webcam Interviews" and "Cast & Crew Interviews" provide extensive discussions with the filmmakers, enriching the understanding of this horror anthology. Additionally, the disc features promotional content, a photo gallery, conceptual designs for Lily, and trailers that round off a comprehensive package for fans.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Cast & Crew Commentary: Lively and less formal commentary with most writers and directors.
    • Alternate Ending - 10/31/98: Offers a significantly happier resolution.
    • More Tuesday the 17th: A mix of prequel content, deleted scenes, and behind-the-scenes footage.
    • Amateur Night Balloon Night: Insight into the filming process utilizing balloons.
    • Webcam Interviews: Skype-based discussions with Simon Barrett and Helen Rogers.
    • Cast & Crew Interviews: In-depth interviews covering the filmmaking process.
    • AXS TV: A Look at V/H/S: A brief promotional piece.
    • Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery: Collection of on-set photographs.
    • Conceptual Design Gallery - Lily: Designs of the creature Lily from "Amateur Night".
    • Theatrical Trailer: Official movie trailer.
    • Also from Magnolia Home Entertainment: Additional trailers from Magnolia.

    Movie: 59

    V/H/S," the horror anthology that breathes life—or death—into the found-footage sub-genre, showcases a mix of innovation and homage that will intrigue horror aficionados. Despite being haunted by the common pitfalls of anthology films, namely unevenness in storytelling and quality, "V/H/S" manages to leave an indelible mark chiefly due to some stand-out segments. At its core, "Tape 56" ties these disparate tales together, constructed around a group of morally dubious individuals whose venture into a seemingly vacuous house to retrieve a peculiar VHS tape evolves into a terrifying ordeal. The shaky-cam technique imbues the film with a raw, unsettling authenticity, though at times it threatens to compromise narrative clarity and audience engagement.

    Among the segments, "Amateur Night" and "Second Honeymoon" emerge as exemplars of the anthology's potential. "Amateur Night," with its repugnant characters and a horrifying twist, both repels and captivates, handicapped slightly by its lack of sympathetic figures. Meanwhile, "Second Honeymoon," directed by Ti West, tempers its pacing to build suspense, blossoming into a narrative that cleverly subverts expectations. Conversely, segments like "Tuesday the 17th" grapple with cliché and struggle to inject originality into the worn fabric of slasher tropes. The segment's reliance on digital effects and underdeveloped antagonistic force dampens its impact, veering closer to parody than homage.

    "V/H/S" oscillates between genius and mediocrity, rendering it a fragmented yet fascinating piece within the horror anthology genre. Its forays into narrative experimentation—most notably in the unnervingly intimate "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger"—are commendable, despite occasionally succumbing to superficiality and unanswered questions. The film's engagement with digital age paranoia, alongside its blend of supernatural and visceral horror, offers a reflective if disquieting commentary on voyeurism and violence. Notwithstanding its flaws, including variable acting quality and sometimes disorienting cinematography, "V/H/S" furnishes enough spectral allure and inventive dread to be considered a requisite addition to the horror connoisseur's collection.

    Total: 59

    V/H/S" on Blu-ray presents a polarizing experience that sharply divides horror genre enthusiasts. The anthology's unique selling point, its found-footage technique, manifests a double-edged sword. On one hand, moments of sheer terror achieved through innovative camera work—namely a haunting she-demon, an enigmatic masked intruder, and the unsettling portrayal of self-surgery—highlight the potential of found footage when masterfully handled. These instances provide a genuine scares that aficionados of horror will appreciate, particularly those captivated by the work of Radio Silence. However, the film's reliance on this method also introduces significant drawbacks. A considerable portion of the runtime is marred by excessive shaky-cam footage, which could deter viewers and detracts from the overall narrative pacing. This stylistic choice might make "V/H/S" a challenging watch for some, suggesting it could benefit from a tighter edit.

    Despite these criticisms, the Blu-ray release of "V/H/S" could very well find its niche among hardcore horror fans and collectors. The anthology format combined with the distinct flavor of terror in each segment offers something uniquely appealing. The presentation on Blu-ray enhances the experience, making it a commendable addition for those who relish in the genre's darker, more experimental corners. The talent showcased, especially by Radio Silence, signifies a promising direction for future horror projects and leaves an eager anticipation for sequels among its admirers.

    In conclusion, while "V/H/S" might not cater to all tastes due to its heavy reliance on found-footage techniques and at times excessive shaky footage, it unmistakably holds value for horror enthusiasts looking for originality and moments of pure fright. Its Blu-ray presentation serves not only as an essential piece for collectors but also as a testament to the evolving nature of horror storytelling. Whether for a late-night thrill or as a study in genre filmmaking, "V/H/S" offers enough to warrant a viewing, though perhaps best approached with tempered expectations and an appreciation for the film's finer points.