Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween II (1981)

I doubt that John Carpenter realized he was crafting something iconic when he made Halloween back in 1978. It was probably one of those cases where the producers hired him to write and direct a horror movie so they could make a little cash, and that was it. But over three decades later, Halloween is viewed as one of horror cinema's true classics. And after its success and the success that the movie's most famous imitator, Friday the 13th, had in 1980, I guess it only made sense for Carpenter and crew to return to Haddonfield in 1981 for a sequel. Halloween II is one of the more popular sequels in the franchise, and for good reason. It's a great flick that I honestly can't recommend enough.

The movie begins as the previous one concludes, with Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) saving the woe-begotten Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) from certain death at the hands of Michael Myers (Dick Warlock). But despite having been shot in the chest six times, Michael gets up and walks away. As Dr. Loomis obsessively searches for Michael with the police, an injured Laurie is taken to the hospital for treatment. Little does she know that Michael has arrived at the hospital as well, murdering anyone and everyone as he searches the building for Laurie.

Although I like to call myself a fan of slasher movies, I never really got into the Halloween franchise. I didn't even know it existed until Halloween H20 came out in 1998. I've seen most of the movies since then, but never really paid much attention to them. This review was my first honest attempt at remedying that and giving the franchise a real shot. And I can tell you that Halloween II didn't let me down in the slightest.

Rather than direct it himself, John Carpenter chose to co-write and produce the movie. Taking the reins in Carpenter's stead was first-time filmmaker Rick Rosenthal. The way he handles things, you'd think that Rosenthal was an old pro or that Carpenter made the movie for him. The movie feels less similar to the original Halloween and more like an early Friday the 13th sequel, but Rosenthal still manages to retain some of the lingering dread that made the first one so frightening. It occasionally seems as if we're watching more of the same, yes, but Rosenthal still makes it work. There's a chase scene roughly an hour into the movie that is so tense and suspenseful that it should be added to the required viewing for anyone looking to make their own horror movie.

Then again, you could say that about the whole third act of the movie. The first hour of the movie is uneven in spots, with the scenes in the hospital moving at a far slower pace than the more intense scenes where Dr. Loomis and the police hunt for Michael. But that final thirty minutes are brilliantly done, some of the best horror filmmaking I've seen in quite a while. If the first hour was meant to be just buildup for that third act, then it was totally worth it.

It's unfortunate, though, that Rosenthal isn't working from a very strong script. Written by Carpenter and Debra Hill, it's a weak effort all the way around. It honestly feels that they were roped into doing it with promises of a nice paycheck. One gets the impression that Carpenter and Hill just figured, "What the hell, let's just do a Friday the 13th knockoff and be done with it." The worst element of the whole thing is the characters, many of whom come off as incredibly weak. A lot of them are just there for Michael to kill, while the intelligent Laurie of the first movie is instead replaced by a whimpering ball of nerves that seems afraid of her own shadow.

And poor Dr. Loomis is almost rendered a parody of himself. He spends most of the movie waving his gun around, arguing with the cops about how evil Michael Myers is. Dr. Loomis even manages to get some random guy killed just because he was wearing a mask that looked a little bit like Michael's. Okay, I understand that Loomis is pretty much the Captain Ahab to Michael's Moby Dick, but still...

The cast is also a bit of a mixed bag as well. Like the characters, a lot of the actors are just there. Many of them are dull and wooden, like they couldn't be bothered to put forth enough effort. It's also a bummer that Jamie Lee Curtis isn't given more to do than be practically comatose until the third act. Her performance in the original Halloween is great, but here? Not so much. Curtis does what she can, but it's primarily a case of not having enough to work with.

There are, however, some good performances to be had. One comes from Charles Cyphers, who plays Haddonfield's sheriff with conviction and believability. He sadly leaves the movie about halfway through, which is a real shame because they could have done so much more with his character, and I'm sure Cyphers would have aced it. The movie's other great performance comes from Donald Pleasence. Yeah, he gets a little hammy, but what's so bad about that? Pleasence is awesome here, and is a hell of a lot of fun to watch in not just this movie, but in each Halloween movie he appeared in.

And that's the best thing I can say about Halloween II it's a fun, fun movie. Despite every little gripe I've yammered on about, the movie is entertaining from start to finish. It might not be the legendary classic that the first movie is, but it's still totally worth checking out. And how many horror sequels can say that? So check it out if you get the chance, and I hope you have a happy Halloween.

Final Rating: ***

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)

I might as well come right out and lay all my cards out on the table from the start: I'm a fan of the Paranormal Activity movies. Yeah, the positive reviews I've given each chapter so far might be proof enough of that. But I'll admit that every Halloween, I await with baited breath each new entry into the "found footage" saga that killed the Saw franchise.

Perhaps it was only a matter of time before a Paranormal Activity movie left me feeling disappointed. And that time is unfortunately now, because Paranormal Activity 4 was a tremendous letdown. The movie is almost like a parody of the franchise, or the big-budget studio equivalent of something The Asylum would do. And I hate saying that too, because I'm genuinely a fan of these movies. But if this one is any indication, them the franchise has finally run out of gas.

Instead of following in the footsteps of the other sequels, this one is a legit sequel instead of a prequel. It picks up five years after the first two, taking us to the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, Nevada. We're quickly introduced to Alex Nelson (Kathryn Newton), a plucky 15-year-old girl who seemingly has everything going for her. Things start getting a little odd for her, however, when her parents agree to look after their neighbor's son ― an odd little boy named Robbie (Brady Allen) ― for a few days while Robbie's mother deals with a medical emergency.

While Robbie quickly makes friends with Alex's little brother Wyatt (Aiden Lovekamp), Alex begins noticing strange disturbances around the house at night. She enlists her boyfriend Ben (Matt Shively) with the task of installing hidden webcams in different parts of the house, hoping to catch some evidence of these weird happenings. But over the course of the next month, it becomes apparent that not only has something supernatural moved into the Nelson home, but it seems fixated on Robbie and Wyatt.

I wanted to like Paranormal Activity 4. I really did. I wanted to walk out of that theater singing its praises, to write this review and tell you how awesome it is. But the movie's not awesome. It's not even good. Truth be told, the movie is just plain bad. I'd heard a lot of negative things about it beforehand, but I was shocked by just how little effort was put into it. Could anyone involved with this thing be bothered to care? Because it sure as hell didn't look like it if they did!

The brains behind this steaming pile are Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, the filmmaking duo that had previously directed Paranormal Activity 3. But while I thought their work on that particular movie was great, their work here is surprisingly disappointing. It's like the producers hired two completely different people that coincidentally had the same names. There's no suspense to be had, no tension or even scares. Long stretches of the movie pass by where nothing happens. And that's really the movie's worst crime: it's boring.

Joost and Schulman at least try for some of the genre's stereotypical cheap jump scares. But not only are they not scary (more of a startle than a scare), but they're really cheap. They actually try to scare us by using scene transitions and bad editing! A character will walk into a closet for a few seconds, and BOOM! She's suddenly back in the center of the room. Some people sit on one side of the kitchen, and BANG! The refrigerator door is suddenly in our faces while someone rummages around for a snack. It's less-than-amateur horror filmmaking, the kind of crap that makes it seem like Joost and Schulman wanted to parody genre tropes and clich├ęs but were too lazy to care.

The script also suffers from an almost offensive level of stupidity. Written by Christopher Landon (himself a veteran of the Paranormal Activity franchise, having written the second and third movies), the script is riddled with plot holes and questionable choices by its characters. Take, for example, the fact that nobody can be bothered to actually watch the footage that's being recorded. The cameras even being there at all are only acknowledged a handful of times, and watching them is only referenced twice near the beginning and once at the end. That's it. If I suspected I lived in a haunted house and set up a bunch of cameras in my house to prove it, I'd be glued to the screen watching the footage all the time.

They'd even captured two specific instances of the ghost proactively messing with Alex, during one of which she was trapped in the garage and almost killed. But is it ever referenced? Not once. Alex doesn't even try to showing it to her parents to defend herself when they confront her about why she felt compelled to crash the car through the garage door. Why even record all this footage at all if you're not going to bother watching or even referencing it? You might as well just have made a regular movie instead of using the "found footage" technique.

It doesn't help that Landon doesn't add anything at all to the mysterious mythology of the franchise. That weird scene after the credits makes no sense beyond being a blatant setup for a fifth movie, and the movie's twist regarding what happened to baby Hunter after the end of the second movie only raises a million more questions. I don't want to spoil it, but I will point out that the twist makes even less sense than the post-credits sequence. It's a confusing turn of events that made me feel like somebody edited out any sort of explanations the movie might have had. We don't know anything more about the mythology than we did at the end of the third movie, and it makes the twist come off as being there for the sake of throwing off the audience and giving them something to do in a future sequel.

At least this movie has some decent acting going for it. I thought Matt Shively provided some funny moments, basically playing a younger, less-douchey version of Micah from the first movie. He's outshined, however, by two other members of the cast. One is Brady Allen, whose turn as the weird neighbor kid is surprisingly good. Allen is creepy and off-putting, bringing a very subtle air of menace to the character. He's quite convincing, and I totally bought what he was bringing to the table.

But the real star of the show is Kathryn Newton. I've never seen her in any other movies, but I was impressed by how well Newton handled herself here. She's absolutely fantastic and had me convinced from the start. I totally bought that she was going through all this. And while the character has the occasional dumb moments (why not show the footage to anyone?), Newton plays the role with intelligence and aplomb. It's just a shame that the movie isn't as good as she is.

I'm still in shock over how much of a letdown this movie was. Remember how I thought V/H/S was just okay? It's a million miles ahead of Paranormal Activity 4. It's like they couldn't come up with anything but were stuck meeting a release date, so they slapped this thing together at the last minute. The movie will make a bunch of money and a fifth Paranormal Activity is probably a safe bet. But that doesn't stop the fourth one from getting my hopes up and then dashing them away. At least the first three are still pretty good, right?

Final Rating:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sinister (2012)

While "found footage" movies are huge in the horror genre right now, I can't really think of many movies about the people who actually discover the footage to begin with. You could make the argument for Cannibal Holocaust, but outside of that, there aren't many I can come up with off the top of my head. But the newly-released Sinister comes close to something like that. Building upon that concept by adding elements of haunted houses and murder mysteries, Sinister is an amazing horror flick that deserves every bit of acclaim it's gotten lately.

Meet Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), an author of true-crime novels who, despite his best efforts, hasn't been able to produce a bestseller for the better part of a decade. Believing he's found the story that will provide his next big hit, Ellison uproots his family and moves into a house in rural Pennsylvania where an entire family ― save one child that seemingly disappeared off the face of the planet ― was found dead in the backyard.

As he starts his research into the tragedy that befell the house's previous owners, Ellison finds a box of old Super 8 film reels in the attic. The seemingly innocuous titles scrawled on each one lead him to initially believe that they're just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill home movies. But Ellison is horrified to learn that the movies are footage of numerous families being brutally murdered, including the family he's writing about. You read it right, folks; Ellison just stumbled onto a big box of snuff films.

As he watches and re-watches the movies, Ellison starts noticing that certain elements of each one are oddly similar. Each murder scene had a particular sigil painted somewhere nearby, and a child from all of the families vanished. And at the center of this mystery is a strange, demonic-looking figure that appears in all of the movies. What Ellison first thought was a serial killer is soon revealed to be a supernatural force that, as the matter is investigated further, puts Ellison and his family in jeopardy.

If you've never seen any of the trailers or TV commercials for Sinister, then you've had a lot of the mystery and a lot of the best scares ruined for you. But the weird thing is that the movie is so damn effective that even the stuff that you know is about to happen can still terrify you. Sinister is, without question, one of the scariest movies I've seen in a while. Beyond the tried and true "boo!" scares, the movie is filled with such a sense of menace and dread that you always have the feeling that something evil is lurking around the corner. And even if it doesn't strike, the sheer knowledge that it's there is enough.

It helps that the movie was directed by Scott Derrickson, who helmed the absolutely stellar Exorcism of Emily Rose back in 2005. This particular trip to the supernatural marks Derrickson's return to the horror genre after his short layover into science fiction with the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, and he hits a grand slam with Sinister. Very few of the scares feel cheap, and Derrickson really goes out of his way to build up the prevalent feeling that the monster is lurking just out of sight, ready to pounce without warning. Derrickson pulls out all the stops in an effort to terrorize the audience, utilizing some amazing sound design, haunting music (both composer Christopher Young's score and the songs contributed by various avant-garde, experimental bands), and creepy cinematography to craft this excellent slice of horror.

But for all the scares during the movie, the most frightening parts are the Super 8 movies. Those things are friggin' terrifying! Between the authentic look and the spooky music, these scenes are really uncomfortable to watch. I'm getting the shivers just thinking about them. And the fact that the videos are given seemingly innocuous yet darkly ironic names (footage of a drowning is labeled "Pool Party '66," an arson is "BBQ '79," and so on) makes things even worse. The only thing scarier than a demonic orchestrating a series of murders is when the monster enjoys irony too.

I will say, though, that I thought the screenplay penned by Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill was a little give or take. It's mainly due to the severe lack of character development. Outside of the lead character, there is precious little forward movement for anybody in the movie. The kids disappear halfway through the movie, Ellison's wife never gets beyond "doting yet upset with her husband's emotional distance," and two characters are in there strictly to deliver exposition and nothing more. It honestly feels like there was a ton of character-establishing moments edited out of the movie to keep it under two hours.

Despite that flaw, Derrickson and Cargill still wrote one heck of a scary movie. Yeah, a lot of it was spoiled by that damnable advertising campaign. But the writers (with plenty of assistance from Derrickson's direction) still manage to pull you in and make you wonder just what's going to happen next. Considering that it's Cargill's first credited movie, the fact that it was this successful, lack of character development notwithstanding, is pretty impressive.

And last but not least is the cast, who turn in decent performances across the board. I especially liked James Ransone as a local cop who looks into the source of the Super 8 movies for Ellison, and I thought Vincent D'Onofrio and Fred Dalton Thompson were great despite having what amounted to extended cameos. But Ethan Hawke absolutely owns the movie. The character is a bit of a selfish dick with no qualms about alienating his wife and children if it means regaining his past fame, and Hawke makes it believable. He plays the role in such a way that you'd totally buy why he'd be so fascinated with the case he's studying. And as the movie progresses, Hawke effortlessly conveys just how much his sanity has been affected. He's constantly jittery and stressed out, almost always holding a glass full of booze to try and calm his frayed nerves. If it were me, I'd probably be the same way.

As you've probably guessed by now, I really dug Sinister. It's a truly frightening movie that values suspense and atmosphere just as much as jump scares. And with Halloween right around the corner, now is the perfect time for a movie like this. It's well worth the effort to head out and see theatrically. So please do yourself a favor and go check out Sinister if you're even remotely interested in horror movies. I wish more scary movies were like this, because the genre could use them.

Final Rating: ****

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

V/H/S (2012)

Although they're seemingly nowhere near as common as they might have been in the past, there exists a type of movie called the "anthology film." If you're unfamiliar with the term, allow me to clue you in. An anthology film is what you get when you compile a number of short movies ― some by one director, some by a group of them ― into one feature-length movie, with scenes between each segment to serve as some kind of overarching theme to connect them. If you've seen Creepshow or Twilight Zone: The Movie, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Anthology films aren't exactly filling up the multiplexes at this point in time, but they do exist if you know where to find them. One that got a bit of attention in horror fan circles despite its tiny release was Chillerama, which brought four independent horror filmmakers together to give us a number of comedic tales of terror that lampooned drive-in creature features. I still haven't gotten around to watching Chillerama, but there was another recent anthology movie that I absolutely had to see as soon as I got the opportunity.

Titled V/H/S, the movie takes a turn away from Chillerama's humor and drives straight for the scares. And like almost all of the anthology movies that have preceded it, V/H/S also has its own gimmick: each segment is done in the "found footage" style. That particular type of filmmaking has its detractors, but I'm a fan when it's pulled off successfully. The "found footage" aspect is the big thing that drew me to V/H/S, and I'm really excited to see how it turned out. So join me as I fire up a dusty old VCR and give the movie a shot.

The overarching story, the one that connects all the other segments, is a simple one. A group of hooligans, dedicated to catching their random acts of vandalism and sexual assault on videotape, are hired by an anonymous benefactor to break into a house and steal a VHS tape with some particularly lurid footage on it. But when the gang gains entry into the house, they discover the body of the house's owner, who seemingly died watching a wall of TVs. And just their luck, he's surrounded by a huge stack of unlabelled VHS tapes. If they're going to fine the video they've been sent to retrieve, they'll need to hunker down and watch all of them first.

The first of these tapes (titled "Amateur Night") introduces us to Shane (Mike Donlan), Patrick (Joe Sykes), and Clint (Drew Sawyer), a trio of irresponsible frat boys who just want to get laid and record the whole thing on the miniature spy camera hidden in Clint's glasses. They think they've hit the jackpot when they convince two lovely young women, Lily (Hannah Fierman) and Lisa (Jas Sams), to follow them to their motel room. But the three drunken horndogs are not aware, however, that one of the girls is more predator than prey.

The next tape is "Second Honeymoon," which follows a young married couple named Sam (Joe Swanberg) and Stephanie (Sophia Takal) as they embark on, as you can expect from the segment's title, their second honeymoon. Their cross-country road trip takes them to an Old West themed tourist destination, where they're shadowed by a mysterious stalker (Kate Lyn Sheil). This stalker follows their every move, even breaking into their motel room as they sleep. At first the stalker plays a few mean-spirited pranks on them, and then moves on to stealing their things. This mysterious figure quickly grows tired of its games and escalates things to a much more dangerous and violent level.

The tape after that ("Thursday the 17th") sees a group of friends venturing out into the woods to have a little fun. Things get a little weird, though, when the camera starts capturing quick images of dead, mutilated bodies that aren't there from one second to the next. And then one of the friends, an odd young woman named Wendy (Norma C. Quinones), starts making bizarre comments about how they're all going to die. She's actually onto something, as a supernatural killer disguised within a patch of blurry technical glitches in the camera's viewfinder begins taking them out one by one. It soon comes down to Wendy versus the killer in a battle for survival.

Tape number four is "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger," a mouthful of a title if I ever heard one. It focuses on James (Daniel Kaufman) and the titular Emily (Helen Rogers), a couple in a long-distance relationship who bridge the distance between them via online video chats. Emily's recently moved into a new apartment, one that she is convinced is haunted. She sees odd visions of children running from room to room, and a strange bump has appeared on her arm. Of course, James is skeptical. Emily's webcam begins capturing some of the bizarre events that have been plaguing her, making it harder and harder to deny that something might be out to get her.

The movie's final tape ("10/31/98") sees a quartet of friends heading for a Halloween party. They arrive at what they think is the house hosting the party, but find it deserted. Letting themselves in through the back door, the four would-be partiers enter what they're initially led to believe is just a haunted house attraction that's closed for the evening. But when ghostly figures and strange noises lead them to the attic, they find some sort of cult in the process of performing some kind of ritual on a tied-up woman (Nicole Erb). But when they accidentally interrupt the ritual, the four men realize that something malevolent is in the house and all hell is about to break loose.

I was initially really excited to see V/H/S. The concept alone sounded awesome, and I thought the trailers looked tremendous. After reading some lukewarm reviews and opinions of the movie online, however, the enthusiasm I had going in was dulled somewhat. But after having finally sat down and watched it, I can honestly tell you that V/H/S is totally worth watching. It's not without its flaws, as there's plenty of room for improvement in some of the segments. But I'd still call it a must-see for fans of low-budget horror and the found footage genre.

Having never reviewed an anthology movie before, I was a little unsure of how I should handle it at first. But I figure it would be easier if I just broke it down segment by segment. Let's start with the wraparound story, a batch of segments titled "Tape 53" in the closing credits. Directed by Adam Wingard, "Tape 53" doesn't really add a lot to the movie beyond setting up the basic premise and concept. These interstitial segments are well-made and well-acted with the occasional spooky moment, but they end up becoming repetitive after a while. A lot of these bits just grow predictable, with nothing new added until the last one.

But "Tape 53" is only a small piece of the bigger puzzle. Things pick up in "Amateur Night," a fine piece of business directed by David Bruckner. Bruckner does a fantastic job setting things up, building a creepy, unsettling feeling as each second passes. It helps that Bruckner is working with some good actors as well, particularly Drew Sawyer and Hannah Fierman. Sawyer does a rather understated job, trying to develop a character that wasn't given much development in the script. You can tell his character is a decent enough guy who is really uncomfortable partaking in the evening's debauchery with his friends, and Sawyer makes it work.

But "Amateur Night" is totally stolen by Fierman, who is really creepy, really off-putting, and fascinating to watch. Her body language and great big doe eyes are expressive enough on their own, which allows Fierman say a ton with just a few words. It makes her transition from shy, weird girl to man-eating monster that much more scary.

Let's move along to "Second Honeymoon," written and directed by up-and-coming horror filmmaker Ti West. West made a name for himself with his critically acclaimed The House of the Devil in 2009, a movie that I have yet to actually watch despite it sitting in my DVD collection for a couple of years. I keep hearing West is a super-talented filmmaker, but "Second Honeymoon" doesn't show it. It takes a while to get rolling, and by the time it does, it's already over. It's dull, boring, and just a chore to watch. There are also the uninspired, unengaging performances from its two primary actors. I probably would have liked them a lot more had West given them more to do, but all they have is just some random couple's dull travelogue. "Second Honeymoon" is not scary, not suspenseful, and I wish it had just been edited out of V/H/S altogether.

The worst segment of V/H/S is oddly enough followed up by my favorite, writer/director Glenn McQuaid's "Tuesday the 17th." It's obviously a takeoff of Friday the 13th, but done in such a way that it's its own beast. It's one of the best throwbacks to '80s slasher movies I've ever seen, with an excellent twist on the style by McQuaid. It's not only unique, but scary, suspenseful, and downright entertaining. And when combined with the great performances from Norma C. Quinones and Jason Yachanin, "Tuesday the 17th" is definitely worth the price of admission.

I wish Tales from the Crypt or Masters of Horror were still around, because I'd have loved to see "Tuesday the 17th" expanded into something longer than this short little snippet of an anthology movie. A feature-length movie might have been too much, but had it been 45 minutes or an hour long, I wouldn't have complained at all.

And really, it's all downhill from here, even though the remaining segments are still really good. "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger," the segment contributed by director Joe Swanberg, is a really neat idea for a found footage movie. In a movie (and genre) full of stuff shot with high-end camcorders, something that takes place online with webcams is a neat spin on the style. It also helps make things really spooky to watch (and there are some definite scares to be had here), but it helps that the segment's actors are putting forth their best efforts. Daniel Kaufman does a fine job, but Helen Rogers ends up running laps around him. She's cute, likable, and very charming. She plays the role with an earnest believability that really sells the whole thing.

And this brings us to our final segment. Written and directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez, and Chad Villella (a team of filmmakers collectively known as "Radio Silence"), "10/31/98" is a lot of fun with an intense climax. This is another segment that I could have lived with being longer. I wanted to see more of this madness. I haven't seen a really good haunted house movie in a while, and while "10/31/98" is great, I would have liked it even more had it been more fleshed out.

But to their credit, Radio Silence still did an amazing job building up to their big climax, the anticipation building to a payoff that is surprisingly well put together. The climax, which I don't want to spoil beyond what's in my plot synopsis, is both scary as hell and very entertaining. It's a payoff that's totally worth it, making the buildup just as good as what it's building to.

I enjoyed a lot of V/H/S, but the movie as a whole was not without its flaws. One problem is that none of the segments ever even make that first attempt to explain anything that's going on. Why is anything happening to anybody in V/H/S? I understand that none of the segments are really long enough to delve into the whys and hows of what's going on, but couldn't at least one of them throw the viewers a bone and explain something without us having to piece it together ourselves? And I'm cool with the whole "found footage anthology" concept, but who the hell collected all this footage onto a stack of VHS tapes? Screw "suspension of disbelief," I want to know!

It also falls victim to the classic found footage quandary, "Why does everyone keep filming when they should just drop the camera and run away?" Some of the segments can justify the constant filming, as the cameras are sewn into the clothing of characters in both "Amateur Night" and "10/31/98," and at least the cameraman in "Amateur Night" has the wise idea to try and get the hell out of there. But the fact that the characters in the other segments have practically no survival instinct whatsoever is baffling. It's especially bad in "Thursday the 17th," when the final character left alive pretty much shoves the camera right in the killer's face and bemoans her inability to capture a clear picture of him on tape. Because instead of making an escape attempt or trying to kill the monster, she gets worried about what he looks like on camera and gives him the opportunity to snatch said camera from her and bop her on the head with it.

But regardless, I'll still totally recommend V/H/S as a great way to spend Halloween. Put it on as a double feature with something like Trick 'r Treat, and sit back and have a blast. Yeah, it's got a few problems, but the good far, far outweighs the bad. V/H/S is definitely worth the time and effort, because it's a hell of a lot of fun.

Final Rating: ***