Blu-ray Review: VHS

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I have to admit, I’m very excited about today’s presentation, a copy of “VHS” which our friends at Magnet sent out for us to review. I’ve been hearing quite a bit about this one for some time, so seeing if it actually comes out the way it might is a little on the thrilling side. Would the final product live up to the hype?

“VHS” sends out a flock of misfits to burglarize a house in the country. Since the house seems empty, it also seems like an easy job. But the crew of burglars is hired to get hands on just one thing: a rare VHS cassette tape. Sounds strange, sure, but what’s waiting for the burglars is even stranger, as the burglars find a few very disturbing things in the house. Disturbing things like a hub of old televisions with multiple screens, piles of VHS tapes crammed full of footage from indeterminate sources…and a body. Assembling the story of what actually happened in this house, and where the tapes came from, would be a tall order, but one that might mean the burglars’ survival.

First, yes, this is a found footage title. I’ve always enjoyed those thanks to the extra note of plausibility injected into the proceedings. After all, to get suspension of disbelief in most movies takes some effort, some more so than others. But with found footage, you just need to clear one point: you are watching footage someone else found. And once you’ve done that, the whole movie becomes a lot more believable.

However, this is also a multi-vignette story. This isn’t the kind of thing you see much of these days, especially with a wraparound story. It is a bit on the disjointed side, with more than its share of shakycam–an inherent danger with this sort of release–but at the same time, the disjointedness adds to the overall scariness of the presentation by making it quite unclear just what will happen next. When things go wrong in “VHS”, they go wrong with alarming speed and profound degree. It may take a while to get there, but when it does, it will usually get bad real quick. Sometimes they’ll even do a fair job of building tension beforehand, which is a treat, but not always, which is a disappointment.

Special features will be plentiful here, including some BD-Live features that are only accessible to those with Internet-connected Blu-ray players. Additionally, there will be a set of audio options, as well as your choice of English or Spanish subtitles. There will be a cast and crew audio commentary track, an alternate ending, more of “Tuesday the 17th”, a set of cast and crew interviews as well as some webcam interviews, a making-of featurette from AXS TV, behind the scenes photos, a character design featurette, and trailers for “VHS”, “Nature Calls”, “The Good Doctor”, “Compliance”, and “Jack and Diane”.

“VHS” is a strange animal, but largely satisfying. There’s a lot going on in here, and not all of it will make sense. But it will put up plenty of interesting twists, and once you catch on to what’s going on it, it should prove a very worthwhile piece of horror film.

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