Thursday, May 29, 2014

Open Grave: Unknown Knowns

So in my last post about Creep, I complained about the use of prologues in horror movies as a way to introduce the idea that there’s going to be a Bad Thing that’s going to happen to or be encountered by the protagonists. I complained about it because I think it’s an overused device that saps some of the tension out of some movies. Not always - certainly it’s possible to have a prologue whose meaning is revealed or changes as the film unfolds - but often it seems like it’s just a mostly-unrelated bit of scary business meant to tell us that something scary is going to happen, which no shit, it’s a horror movie. I think it’s equally useful to open films innocuously, building things up or introducing the threat in a sudden, shocking fashion instead of “people we will never see again meet a bad end, smash cut to title.” It’s something that’s been bugging me for a bit, and that last movie just happened to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

But then I got to Open Grave, a measured exercise in the gradually unfolding horror of discovery that utterly denies the idea of the prologue, and does so pretty well.

We open at night, during a storm. A man slowly regains consciousness, working painful kinks out of his arms and legs. He’s been out for some time and seems to be in pain. He finds a gun lying near him. It’s hard to tell where he is at first, because it’s dark and raining. As the camera pulls up from the man, an especially large flash of lighting tells him and us where he is... a large concrete pit, filled edge-to-edge with corpses.

A figure at the edge of the pit lowers a rope, and the man climbs out. The figure disappears into the dark, and the man is left to his own devices. He finds his way to a house, where he discovers five more people. Four of them, like the man himself, suffer from complete memory loss. None of them can remember how they got where they are, or even where that is. The fifth is a woman - the person who pulled the man out of the pit - and as it transpires, she is incapable of speech, and can only write in Chinese, which none of them speak. Six people with no history or identity to share, in a strange place, just down the road from a recently-made mass grave. Who are they? Why are they there? Where are they? Why are there dozens and dozens of corpses nearby?

The rest of the movie is a process of discovery, as these people start to recover some vague flashes of memory and explore their surroundings, trying desperately to piece together who they are and what's going on, and it really does take the better part of the movie for everyone (the protagonists and the audience) to put the pieces together. Needless to say, there’s some bad shit going on, and the way the story is told primarily through the setting is excellent - the characters move from the house out into the surrounding woods and find chaos, inexplicable things, abandoned laboratories and medical facilities, people in terrible, desperate condition and none of them can figure out why. It reveals the scope of what has happened bit by bit as much as anything else, and although there's not a lot to the characters (there can't be because even they don't know who they are) and there's at least one handy contrivance (it’s really convenient that the one person who could shed some light on the whole thing is incapable of communicating with the others), it really does do the gradual reveal well - things seem bad, then worse, then even worse, then as you start to take in the implications of everything you've seen, there's this pronounced feeling of dread. It's not an obvious outcome but there aren't really any twists to speak of either, it's just not all spoon-fed to you from the beginning.

This approach is also interesting because the filmmakers extend it to the characters as well. You really see the protagonists grapple with their loss of memory - they can do things (like shoot and speak multiple languages) with ease and are baffled by the discovery that they can do so, and they feel things without being entirely sure of why they feel them, and it nicely reflects the compartmentalized nature of memory, since actual amnesia doesn't wipe the slate totally clean. You can forget who you are and still be able to do all of the things you could do before you lost your memory. You can respond to people emotionally and not know why, and that’s conveyed well throughout. They're as much in the dark as we are, and although the dialogue is a little stilted - lots of people just sort of making pronouncements and observations into the air instead of having conversations with each other - their sense of confusion and helplessness is palpable and it helps the overall feeling of confusion and uncertainty in the face of what seems like some looming, awful thing a lot. There’s a nightmare around them and a worse one coming, and they are tormented by their inability to recall its actual shape.

On the other hand, the biggest weakness of the film is bound up with its strength. The nature of the narrative means that it’s not as tense as it could be - everything feels sort of disconnected, there isn’t really a strong sense of geography, either physically or temporally. They’re over here, now they’re over there, and it’s tough to follow the sequence of events sometimes when the protagonists split up into groups. Things that should be shocking aren’t always, because it’s clear from the get-go that something very bad happened and the discovery-based narrative means that it’s less about “oh shit, what just happened?” and more about “oh shit, why did that just happen?” which doesn’t carry the same sort of immediate, visceral shock. Combined with the declamatory nature of the dialogue, it blunts some of the impact, even though the sense of disconnection and incoherence is perfectly appropriate from a narrative standpoint. It does pull it out in the end though - the last big reveal, even once we’ve all put together the mystery, is a gut-punch all the same. It’s an indication that as bad as things seemed to be at the start, they are in fact much worse that we could have imagined in scale and scope, and in that terrible knowledge the bottom drops out from under us and the implication of everything that has come before comes crashing in all at once, and it stayed with me for days afterward. A movie about the loss of memory has been very difficult to forget.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Creep: What The Hell Am I Doing Here? I Don’t Belong Here

Movies aren't always obvious. Some things I’ll watch and immediately I know what I think - some movies leave very strong, clear impressions, for good or ill. Others, though, sneak up on me. I’ll find myself still thinking about them a day or two after watching them, and usually that’s a good thing. Even if it’s not the most technically accomplished, even if it has flaws, even if my immediate viewing experience wasn't strongly positive or negative, if it hangs around in my head, if it sticks in my craw, that’s a good thing. Well, usually. Sometimes I’ll run across something that doesn't make a big impact on me at first, but things will start to bug me about it upon further reflection. I don’t mean plot details, I’m not a big fan of “gotcha” criticism that insists on rigorous adherence to some clinical level of detail and consistency, though there’s certainly an audience for that sort of thing. No, this is more things like themes and imagery that leave kind of a bad taste, a lingering bitterness even when the initial experience was sort of bland and indifferent.

Creep is a good case in point. On the surface, it’s pretty by-the-numbers, but the more I think about the protagonist and the situations through which she’s driven, the less I like what it ends up being about in the end.

There’s a prologue involving two utility workers who find something amiss in the sewer tunnels under London, but it’s not really about them, as these prologues all too often aren't. It’s more there to set up the idea that there’s a Bad Thing and create a sense of foreboding, but I feel like it’s so pro forma at this point that there’s no foreboding at all. But anyway, the sewer workers are soon forgotten in favor of a party in full swing, navigated by our protagonist, Kate. Kate’s a sassy, fun-loving sort, as quick with a drink as a witty retort to the faintly oily coworkers who look at her with a barely disguised mixture of lust and contempt. Kate has no time for them, because she’s heard that George Clooney is in town, and a friend of hers knows where he’s staying, and she’s intent on bagging the handsome American movie star.

I know, it sounds really airheaded and shallow and like our protagonist is a ditzy party girl, but that’s because that’s exactly what she is, and this is where things start being a little problematic. See, Kate discovers that her friend has already left the party in a cab, leaving her hanging with no shot at Clooney, so she desperately hoofs it to a subway station to catch up. After some hassle trying to get a fare card, she manages to make it into the station with one train left for the night. A train which she promptly naps through, waking up alone in a locked and deserted tube station.

Well, not quite alone.

What follows is more or less the worst night of Kate’s life. That’s pretty much how it’s framed - the action is almost (though not entirely) on her and her interactions with others as she tries to get out of the tube station. She’s not alone down there, and some of the people she encounters mean her harm, and others don’t, but Kate barges her way through every interaction, asking other people to do stuff for her and throwing money at them as a way to get them to cooperate. It makes sense, she's speaking the only language she knows, but it rankles, and she doesn't really have a clearly defined character arc. In any given scene, she’s either helpless or surprisingly self-reliant, without a lot of actual growth or development. It just depends on what the scene requires. So that’s the first problem with the film - here’s our heroine, and she’s a bit of an unsympathetic mess.

Another big problem is pacing and rhythm - this movie sort of moves forward in a headlong rush, much like the characters, and because it doesn't really stop to breathe, a lot of moments for real tension and atmosphere are lost. There's a ton of potential in empty tube stations at night, in being lost and having something following you, but tension doesn't really escalate in this movie, it just sort of goes and goes and goes, with one group of people or another running screaming from something, and the mazelike nature of the tunnels in which the movie is set make it easy to lose any sense of location in time or space. This is too, because the idea of moving deeper and deeper into the earth, further and further down not just under London but into London's history as well, could build up tremendous tension and fear. Instead, the characters kind of blunder from one place to the next, and in at least one case it's highly improbable that someone would be able to be where they were in the first place, so it all seems sort of artificial. The soundtrack doesn't help either - the sound design itself is quite good, with metallic squeaks and scrapes and distant cries signaling that things aren't right, but it's overwhelmed by a soundtrack full of thuds and booms and clattering percussion that tells us THIS IS ALL VERY TENSE AND YOU SHOULD BE SCARED NOW. It all feels like they're trying way too hard, and need to give the story (and music) some room to breathe a little.

But those are just the obvious problems with the film. The less-obvious but more-worrisome problems come in with the interaction between the protagonist and antagonists. I use the plural even though the movie title is singular for a reason. See, the movie is called Creep, but I’m going to argue that it’s not really clear who the titular creep really is. On the one hand, we have the Bad Thing alluded to in the prologue, a near-feral cannibal left in the underground as the legacy of some forgotten piece of London’s history. So there’s the obvious villain, but then on the other hand you've got one of Kate’s coworkers, who against logic and narrative sense manages to follow her not just to the subway station but deep into the tunnels where he tries to rape her. So he’s a creep too, albeit one dispatched almost as soon as he’s introduced in what feels like a narratively pointless digression from the main story. Maybe the filmmakers felt like they needed a higher body count, I don’t know, but Kate gets menaced and manhandled by this dude long enough to establish that he’s not a nice guy and then he’s effectively taken out of the equation, which means he was just there in relation to Kate, not to the story itself.

And this is the crux of it - this film really feels less like it’s about people (or even one person) trying to survive in the face of some horrible predation, and more like it’s about punishing Kate at every turn for being her. She’s not sympathetic, she’s pretty much painted as a vain, shallow social climber whose only means of solving problems is throwing money at them, and she’s dragged through trial after trial - from minor indignities at the party to near-rape to near-cannibalization, and if this were a more typical Final Girl scenario, she’d come out the other end victorious, stronger for her ordeal. But that’s not how the film plays it - everything is resolved more or less as you’d expect - the worst thing I could say about this film otherwise is that it is competently handled, no more, no less - but Kate doesn't come out the other end anything like a victor. She is brought low, left sitting on a subway platform filthy and disheveled and mistaken for one of the homeless people from whom she buys a fare card at the start of the film. Here you are Kate, the film says, this is your place. The asshole coworker and the monster then exist not as threats to overcome, but as agents of punishment, means by which Kate may be deprived of her illusions about life and humbled. Is the creep the feral cannibal, the rapist coworker, or us, the audience, delighting in watching her cut down to size? Combined with some icky motherhood imagery elsewhere in the film, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth when it’s all over.

It’s too bad, because there are some good set pieces here and there - the way the film moves from the clean, modern Underground stations through layers and layers of London's old tube system and sewers is nicely creepy, leading us to an understanding of what exactly is chasing the protagonists that's just detailed enough to give us a basic idea, but not so detailed that we feel like we've just been given a huge chunk of unnecessary back story. In fact, the exposition is generally handled pretty neatly throughout. In the end, you sort of have to reveal the monster, and it's not bad, but once that happens the whole thing threatens to collapse into generic slasher territory as bad guy chases good guys and the whole thing gets increasingly gorier. It's reasonably well-shot, with color palettes that become increasingly sicklier and more dingy the deeper things go, but it all feels too unfocused. For a movie about movement - getting out, running away, climbing to the surface - it's surprisingly directionless. And that, combined with a mission statement that seems to be less “people try to survive something terrible” and more “watch this bitch get what’s coming to her” leaves me wondering what the point of any of it was supposed to be, or if I know what the point is and just don't like it.

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Unavailable on Netflix Instant (Available on DVD)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Patrick: A State Between Life And Death, Called The Friend Zone

I feel like I walk a tricky line when I think about scary movies - on the one hand, there’s the cultural artifact aspect of the movie (what is this film communicating in terms of its themes and imagery?) and on the other, the scary aspect of the movie (is this movie actually scary/upsetting/disturbing/etc.?). Like, as much as I like thinking about scary movies and trying to take them as seriously as any other type of film as a cultural document, I also want them to be, you know, scary. At least in the broadest sense of the term where the film evokes some emotion somewhere in the fear/aversion family. It’s part of the reason I don’t really write about horror-comedies or the really self-referential stuff - it often gets in the way of actually being scary, and for the most part I like my scary movies straight, with a minimum of irony. 

So this is sort of my conundrum where the movie Patrick is concerned. It’s an interesting cultural document, but it’s not especially scary. Really, it’s not so much a horror movie as a melodrama with some supernatural elements. But what I found interesting about it is that even though it was made in the late 1970s, it’s eerily prescient of the nerd fantasy of the "Nice Guy."

The film opens with the titular character listening in as two people whisper disparaging things about him in the other room. As it transpires, it is his mother and another man who doesn’t seem to be Patrick’s father, and the mother’s dismissal of her creepy son segues into a disconcerting primal scene through the use of some clever camera work. Patrick confronts his mother and this man as they frolic in the bathtub, and one space heater in the tub later, Patrick seems to have worked through his Oedipal issues.

Flash forward some months later, as a young woman approaches a hospital. She is Kathy Jacquard, and she’s interviewing for a job as a nurse. She’s being interviewed by Matron Cassidy, whose demeanor puts one in mind of Jessica Lange’s character in the second season of American Horror Story almost immediately. Matron Cassidy doesn’t think much of Kathy and has no hesitation in telling her so. However, the head doctor thinks she’ll do nicely and with a dismissive “hire her”, neatly countermands all of Matron Cassidy’s objections. It’s a neatly executed exercise in gender and power dynamics that ends up setting the tone for the rest of the film.

See, Kathy is on her own, running away from a marriage she found stultifying, trying to figure out who she is outside the confines of a relationship that doesn't give her any room to grow or be a fully realized person. So she’s left her husband, gotten an apartment, and now a job. A job taking care of Patrick, who is in a long-term coma with a poor prognosis. She changes his bedpan and his sheets, she keeps his eyes moistened, exercises his limbs. She closes the window when it gets drafty, and when she leaves, the window opens up again.

Patrick likes for the window to stay open.

So that’s the brief. He’s comatose, but - using the logic that losing the use of one sense heightens others - seems to have developed a sixth sense that manifests itself as telekinesis and low-level hypnosis. Kathy is kind to him - kinder than the other attendants or the doctor who treats him like a lab rat, and he takes a shine to her. Of course, given what we know about Patrick from the prologue, he’s not the most stable guy, and his idea of appropriate attention to Kathy is probably not the healthiest. People start having...accidents...and Kathy starts to put the pieces together.

Really, though, the movie ends up being less about Patrick, and more about Kathy Jacquard trying to figure out who she is with a shitload of men orbiting her. There's her estranged husband Ed, who expected her to be content with "four blank walls" and him stumbling home after a couple of hours at the boozer, now in town wanting to make it up to her. There’s Brian Wright, handsome, devilish neurosurgeon - brilliant and as sympathetic as he's capable of being, really interested in Patrick as an anomalous case, and really, really interested in getting in Kathy’s pants without being rapey about it. There’s Dr. Roche, the head doctor at the hospital, who has little to no interest in how people actually work compared to his observation of a single thin slice of the human experience, and who sees Kathy as nothing more than an instrument to assist him in his research. And then there’s Patrick, a little boy in a man's body. Comatose, but capable of influencing people and events well beyond his physical reach. Each of them exerts their own claim over Kathy, and so it's hard for her to assert her agency as a result. And this is what she wants - to make her own decisions. People constantly ask her what she wants throughout the movie and make suggestions with varying levels of tact, and this is what Kathy is trying to do, she's trying to figure out what she wants. The weird dude who can move things with his mind ends up being sort of a side story in Kathy Jacquard’s struggle for self-determination.

But I’d argue that it’s an important side story, because Patrick is the Nice Guy metaphor made literal. He’s someone who has no power or agency of his own (especially compared to the more conventionally masculine Ed and Brian) but believes he can will things into being through manipulation, through the power of the mind. It’s the idea of intellect being superior to physical potency harbored by every boy who got picked on for being smart instead of athletic and nurtured a grudge as a result. Patrick gets revenge on everyone he sees as a threat to himself or to the idea of him and Kathy being together. He sees what he's doing as righteous, hurting the men who hurt this woman and expecting the woman to love him for it. He's a white knight. Only in doing so, he misses the things that genuinely attract Kathy to these other men - Ed's trying to do the right thing, even if it takes him awhile to figure out how to do it, and Brian's a bit of a rogue, but he's a bit of a rogue with ideals and smarts, and neither one of them see Kathy as a possession as Patrick does. For that matter, why is Patrick fixated on Kathy? Well, she's the only woman to ever show him simple human consideration. She’s the only woman who has ever been nice to him, and that's enough for him to think he's in love. If that's not the Nice Guy prototype, I don't know what is. 

And that’s sort of the problem with this movie. It works much better as a drama about one woman’s attempt to understand who she is without doing so in relation to men than it does as a story about someone who can kill people with his mind. There’s some clever, inventive camera work and shot framing throughout that keeps everything feeling just a little off-kilter, but the pacing is definitely a problem - the movie takes awhile to get going, and then when it does it doesn't really build up much of a head of steam. There are some tense bits here and there, some clever fake-outs that set up a sense of menace, but even at its best it feels a little padded out and draggy. There are isolated bits that are good and reasonably suspenseful, but they're so spread out that they lose a lot of their impact, and some things just don't work because there's only so much you can do on a limited budget. The overall atmosphere is one of melodramatic strangeness, which isn't a bad thing in and of itself, but it doesn't really integrate moods very well, instead veering between mildly spooky and somewhat comic, and it takes too long for things to everything to come together. 

What ends up galvanizing (and somewhat redeeming) it is the climax, when Kathy - the only person to recognize Patrick for what he is (a coma patient with telekinetic and telepathic abilities) - confronts him with the truth about who he is (an emotionally immature man who thinks of Kathy as a prize and never takes her feelings into consideration), chiding him as she would a small child. His tantrums - exploding glass, flying objects - don't faze her. She sees through all of that to the insecure little boy underneath. It's not a perfect ending - she still needs a man in the clutch - but she does ultimately come into her own, all the men surrounding her rendered impotent in one way or another, and the standard "…or IS IT?" ending suggests not a sequel or a cheap sting, but rather the idea that although Patrick as a physical being might be dead, the idea of Patrick - the selfish little boy who wants everything to go his way without lifting a finger - lives on.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Pop The Corks, This Blog Is Old Enough For Kindergarten!

So today marks the 5th anniversary of me beginning this little thing I do right here. I'd been casting around for some kind of non-work-related writing project, but was having trouble thinking of something worth doing above and beyond just "hey, more random musings on life from yet another college-educated white man!" The Internet has plenty - more than plenty - of that. But I started thinking about how irritated and frustrated I got with the quality of most horror website movie reviews (and the always-fun "will it be thoughtful or condescending?" roulette you play with mainstream sites), and how much fun I'd had writing briefly about horror films for another blog, and put that together with yet another blog I enjoyed reading, that treated similarly marginalized creative work thoughtfully, and I was all "hey, I'll write a blog about horror movies, and I will try not to treat my audience like idiots, or treat the movies like disposable entertainment!"

So here I am. I try to focus on the movies, to the exclusion of the personalities surrounding the movies (mostly), and to the exclusion of other media related to horror. I try to go into the movies willing to take them seriously, to watch them as much as I can without prejudgment or ironic distance, and gauge how well I think they work both as horror and as film in general. Maybe you agree with my assessments, maybe you don't. That's fine either way. Hopefully, though, I'm giving them more thought than they get from many other outlets, and hopefully I'm providing a voice that I've had trouble finding for myself (and if you have tips on other similar horror blogs, please send them to me). Thanks for reading, I hope you keep reading, and I'll keep trying to do this thing for as long as I can.

To that end, here are a sort-of Top Ten of posts since I started writing. These aren't necessarily the most popular posts, just ones where I felt like I did what I was trying to do in that post or like I was doing what I intend to do with this blog in general. If you don't feel like digging back through five years(!) worth of posts, I understand. Click on these - about half are from the first year of the blog as it is. It's not that I think I've gotten worse as time goes on or anything, but I think I made a lot of Big Statements toward the beginning that I think are sort of seminal to why I do this, and a lot of what I've done since has been just iterating on those. But enough of my yapping. Check this shit out...

On Torture Porn (I think it's a fake idea.)

What We Like - The Difference Between "Horror Movies" and "Thrillers" (I also think this is a fake idea.)

The Killing Room (A really good example of the "deadly experiment" movie.)

Martyrs (Not much to say - it's one of my favorite movies of this century.)

8mm (One of the first movies that got me to expand my idea of what constitutes horror.)

On Sequels, And the Narrative Problems of the Franchise (a/k/a "the one where I bitch about the Saw movies.")

Kill Theory (A really bad example of the "deadly experiment" movie.)

Reconsidered: The Village (This was one of the first scary movies I ever found myself deconstructing.)

Snowtown (Horror as art without compromising horror a single tiny bit.)

Vinyan (I just really liked the way this one turned out in general.)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Gahhhh, The Disease...

So apparently "summer colds" are my look for this season, and I spent all weekend flat on my back either asleep or loopy from medicine. I'm awake and digging out from under at work (and still a little loopy), but will endeavor to write up my next couple of posts soon...first up will be an Australian Carrie-ish thing called Patrick, which isn't all that scary but does make an eerily prescient case for the modern stereotype of the Nice Guy, and after that will be Creep, a thoroughly average "creature using the subway system as a hunting ground" movie.

Monday, May 5, 2014

How I Would Have Done It: The Banshee Chapter

(What I'd like to do in my How I Would Have Done It posts is examine a movie that I think didn't live up to its potential and, well, talk about how I would have done it if I'd been the writer or director. Mostly because just leaving it at "that was dumb" or "that sucked" is kind of unsatisfying, especially when there was something really good buried in there somewhere. I'll be discussing story elements in detail, so all kinds of spoilers await.)

The Banshee Chapter is one of those movies that looks great on paper. It's a story of cosmic horror based on a synthesis of history and real-life phenomena. Weird drugs, ethically bereft government research, mysterious broadcasts, all pointing toward something strange peering back at us from across the veil of reality. It begins with a journalist investigating the strange circumstances around the disappearance of an old college buddy, and the more she discovers, the deeper the rabbit hole goes, until she's immersed in the secret history of one of the darkest periods in American history, and the horrible price we have paid (and continue to pay) for our curiosity.

Or, at least that would be the case if the whole enterprise weren't dragged down by a pervasive narrative incoherence. The Banshee Chapter has a very hard time settling on the story it wants to tell and how it wants to tell it, and the end result is enough of a mess to undo the goodwill engendered by a strong premise. As such, if I were going to make the movie, a lot of things I’d focus on would have to do with streamlining the narrative and giving it a much clearer focus.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Some Thoughts On V/H/S Part 3

Well, I suppose it was inevitable. The murmuring over the third V/H/S/ movie - to be titled V/H/S Viral - has begun. The first two made money, and all things considered it's a pretty tidy franchise to maintain. It's an anthology, so you don't need to worry about all of the weird convolutions of continuity that you get when you take something that works well as a single story and try to stretch it out into an entire saga (still looking at you, Saw). You're not telling a single story that doesn't know when to stop, you're telling lots of little stories. So that's good. And found-footage, as a style of film-making, works best when it looks cheap, so you've got a situation where a bunch of different directors can put together something for relatively little money and put it in front of an audience with less risk of diminishing returns than a more conventional franchise. From the cost side, that's a win.

And from the artistic side, I think it's a win too. Personally, I think we need more venues for short horror films, because horror lends itself to short stories. Some of the scariest stuff  I've ever read were short stories. There's no time to get settled in - things happen and you have to deal with them, and it's over. Concise, creepy, and at less risk for over-explanation. I rate the first V/H/S largely as a success, and even the two weaker entries still did something interesting. The whole thing had a sheen of furtive nastiness to it that gave the strongest entries a real edge. It really did feel like you were watching something wrong, something never intended for others' eyes. The second one didn't work as well, I thought. The roster of directors was strong, but I really felt like it was a little too far up its own ass - too many of the entries seemed to either be more concerned with riffing on the nature of found-footage than telling a story, or telling a solid story in a way that largely elided the constraints (and subsequent narrative power) of a found-footage approach. On top of that, the bridging narrative seems to be cohering into some kind of overarching mythology, and that's rarely a good sign. That's one sure-fire way to sap all of the mystery out of the series, and it's the sort of thing I could see taking over the series further down the line until it stops being an anthology series altogether and just ends up being about a bunch of stock teen-meat cannon fodder being hunted down by these mysterious collectors of bizarre videos. It's not there yet, but I can see it from here.

But the hook here, apparently, is that it's no longer old VHS tapes (which will hopefully be a way to silence the idiots who complained about one of the entries being a Skype call being recorded on a videotape and consequently missing everything that was good about the entry), now it's viral videos - things people find on YouTube. I'll be curious to see what gets done with it. The V/H/S series has a lot of promise - it seems like a good idea from a cost standpoint, it's a format that encourages experimentation and risk-taking, and if you don't like one story, wait a couple of minutes. But success finds a way to ruin things, and I can already see the seeds of potential problems planted. Explain less, show more. Please. Don't ruin a good thing.