V/H/S is yet another entry in the long line of perennial doomed-to-failure anthology films. All genres have had their turns at this sort of showcase. The horror genre is the one genre that's doggedly stuck at it the longest.
Like all of its predecessors, V/H/S is a mixed bag.
Tape 56, the framing story, is entirely uninteresting. It establishes the stupid gimmick and that's all.
Amateur Night immediately strains the VHS gimmick by establishing that the footage was taken by a pair of eyeglasses with a built-in spy camera. Regardless, it fits the found footage theme well. I guess I wish it was scarier (and this might be the most effectively scary short of the bunch). Without spoiling things, I'll say that the short ends on a punchline. This little gag twist at the end undercuts some of the horror, but it's also the only reason that I'm somewhat impressed by this installment.
Second Honeymoon wasn't as great as our wonderful host, Brandon, thinks it is. It wasn't even the best short of the anthology. It looked decent, but it felt like Rod Serling trying to turn an episode of the Twilight Zone into a snuff film. Wait. I guess that doesn't sound all that bad after all.
Tuesday the 17th is the obvious dud of the bunch. It's too bad, too, because all of Brandon's hating just gave me a big ol' fondness for McQuaid. I looked him up and his feature I Sell the Dead looks like a lot of fun. http://www.isellthedead.com/media.html
The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger really pleased me. It was definitely the most "high concept" of all of the films. It felt like a super-condensed X-Files scenario. Not much padding here and a nice twist at the end.
10/31/98 is definitely the best of the bunch. It's well done, yes, but part of its charm is that this is the first of the films in which we get goofy real characters who just seem like they're having fun instead of participating in a horror sketch. The story is nice and tight (though I think the ending is weak), the acting is great, and the fx are fantastic.
Here's how I'd rank them all:
2) The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger
3) Amateur Night
4) Second Honeymoon
5) Tuesday the 17th
6) Tape 56
I'm being too kind here. The film isn't really worth watching. If you must watch it, though, I recommend that you watch it at Brandon's place with some of his buddies and a few Film Clubbers.