Coming up short

Netflix is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? The ability to instantly stream hundreds upon hundreds of movies and television shows is a dream come true, and my latest perusing of of the streaming service has brought me to two cult classics: “Donnie Darko” and the more recent “V/H/S.” I’d love to talk about how much I loved “Donnie Darko,” but assuming most of you have already seen it, I’ll delve into the latter, “V/H/S,” which I have heard nothing but great things about since its release last year.

“V/H/S” is based around a group of thugs invading a mysterious home in search of a VHS tape they have been hired to acquire. The band of burglars quickly stumble upon a deceased old man sitting in front a fuzzy television screen with stacks on stacks on stacks of videotapes surrounding it. One of the guys is left to watch each tape one by one, while the others begin inspect the home for any other video tapes. The rest of the movie consists of five segments the thugs watch en route to their demise. These segments can be described with three simple adjectives: disturbing, horrifying, and pointless.

These little horror-shorts certainly do not contain your run of the mill scares. The fear that these segments induce is simply from being utterly perturbed, see “Amateur Night,” or from the startling twists and turns that you just don’t expect, as seen in “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger.” Very rarely do you experience your typical “jump out and getcha” scare, and when you do, it’s so well done you find it hard to really complain about it.

It’s difficult to remember a recent horror movie that had me covering my eyes and screaming like a little girl like this one did. It was really that terrifying. From the get go, the movie gets you on the edge of the seat and engulfs you, making you feel almost as if you are one of the thugs watching tape after tape with some old, dead guy — who enjoys an intermission every once in awhile — enjoying the footage with you. But this is where the movie’s shortcomings begin to show themselves. The movie immerses you so much that when it reaches its conclusion, you’re left wanting more. It’s like there’s something missing. Oh, wait. There was something missing — what was the meaning of the videotapes?

As one segment ended and another one began, I was expecting all these stories to intertwine at the end. That’s definitely not the case. There was no depth to the film, as I originally thought there was, no explanation was given as to why these thugs were looking for a specific videotape, and the old man’s presence and actions are just shrugged off. It’s just a shame, really – having all these segments come full circle would have made this a horror classic. And that, my friends, is my bold statement for the day.

As I tweeted immediately after the movie, “V/H/S” is the perfect example of an ending undermining the overall quality of a film. Not only is it such a let down, it’s also predictable, yet somewhat unexpected. You know it’s going to happen, you just don’t know it’s going to be the end of the movie. I sat on my friend’s couch for a minute or two as the credits rolled and I told myself, “there’s gotta be a catch.”

There wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, as a horror movie, I give it a thumbs up. It did its job, which was scaring the crap out of me, and if you and your friends are looking for a movie to watch at three in the morning, this is it. But the ending was really just “meh” and left me craving more. Hopefully the sequel realizes the potential of the first and runs with it. Hopefully the sequel answers some of the questions the first one didn’t. Hopefully the sequel doesn’t make me pee my pants — just kidding, I’d be fine with that.