Horror anthologies are almost like their own subgenre. Not sure what kind of horror you’re in the mood for? An anthology has several short films that probably feature different themes and different characters, which is great if you have a shorter attention span. “V/H/S” is one of the best recent horror anthologies, having been released in 2012.
It features a series of five short films wrapped within a larger narrative. The framing narrative was written by Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, and directed by Wingard. The short films are:
- “Amateur Night,” written by David Bruckner & Nicholas Tecosky and directed by Bruckner
- “Second Honeymoon,” written and directed by Ti West
- “Tuesday the 17th,” written and directed by Glenn McQuaid
- “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger,” written by Simon Barrett and directed by Joe Swanberg
- “10/31/98,” written by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez & Chad Villella and directed by Radio Silence
The narrative that frames “V/H/S” involves a group of criminals who were paid to break into an abandoned house to steal a single VHS tape, and each short film is one from a VHS tape they’re watching in the house. All of the short films and the framing are basically found footage, so if you’re not a fan of that subgenre, maybe this isn’t the movie for you.
The short films range from supernatural entities, to cults, to regular old slashers and gore. Each short film has its own creative story, and that is what makes “V/H/S” so interesting. A lot of anthologies leave room for weak points; not every short film is going to be a winner. In this movie, though, it almost feels like the weakest point is the framing itself. It’s a wholly enjoyable film for those that really want to be scared.
It played at Sundance Film Festival, where it did well, and though it has mixed reviews from critics, it seems like many horror fans have enjoyed it. It has two sequels: “V/H/S/2,” which has its ups and downs, and “V/H/S: Viral,” which is a near-total miss of an anthology.