Tuesday, October 29, 2013

V/H/S (2012): Misogyny on Film

V/H/S (2012)
dir: Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, and Radio Silence (aka Chad, Matt and Rob)

The found footage genre is having a renaissance ever since 2007 when REC and Paranormal Activity came bursting on the scene.  The genre's lo-fi aesthetics make it ripe for the cheap and dirty easy buck that horror has always been happy to use.  Thus, it was only natural that found footage would naturally find a home in the lauded and hated Horror Anthology genre.

V/H/S takes 6 directors, most working in lo-fi horror, and forces them to use some sort of found footage aesthetic to make up a short (or the framing device).  There were no rules, no connecting story or theme, and no communication between groups.  What came back was a wide collection of misogynistic horror in a tight 6 story film, thus cementing the belief that creating horror is a boy's club.

The wrap around segment is perhaps the most troubling, as it concerns a group of criminals who go around assaulting women in parking lots and selling it as reality porn.  The main problem is that this is all from the assaulter's point of view, and they're having a shitton of fun.  As we've discussed, point of view makes a hell of a lot of difference, and the first person perspective makes it that much easier to get into the fun of the criminals being all rapey.

David Bruckner's segment, which is the third best, concerns a succubus who comes home with a bunch of drunk idiot frat boys and makes them all suffer. Ti West's segment, the second worst, is some honeymoon video where the wife married the guy so she and her lesbian lover could kill him. Glenn McQuaid made the most dull slasher movie ever. Joe Swanberg, the second best, made a movie about a girl who is dating a guy who is using her as an alien incubator. And, Radio Silence made the best segment ever about a poltergeist that could only be tamed by the killing of a girl.


When Ti West gave interviews, he acknowledged that the movie is indeed a compendium of misogyny, and it was all by chance. What makes it worse, however, is the credits where one of the female's assault in the wraparound is used for a skipping repeated enjoyment.  How lulz.

But, is the movie good? You know, outside of all the lecture-y feminism that this film totally inspires and deserves (and, it has deserved and received far more than I have put in here).  Well, it may depend on your nausea index.

One of the dangers of the found footage genre is the ability to give you motion sickness. The Blair Witch Project, when seen on the big screen, caused me to look away for much of the film because I was getting physically nauseous. V/H/S has that ability in spades, especially in Adam Winguard's wraparound. In some of the more nauseating parts, the camera is hyperkinetic, glitchy, and jumpy. It has all the ability to make you dizzy.

And, outside of that, two of the segments (2 and 3) suffer from boredom. Ti West seems to be addicted to the slow burn then something kind of happens.  He did the same in The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers. And, Glenn McQuaid was just inept.

However, Joe Swanberg's use of Skype was impeccable. And, more than that, Radio Silence's movie was pure haunted house joy from first frame to last. So, you have 2 winners, 2 losers, 1 meh, and a wraparound segment that is better than its nausea. Which, for a horror anthology film, is a decent percentage.  Especially on rewatches, you can just skip ahead to the good stories.

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