The Blair Witch Project

August 4, 2016

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast (Ep. 72) August 2016

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY

On this August edition of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast, the boys come back from their vacation and catch up with what they missed.  JD Duran from Insession Film joins them for a game of Word Association and a brand new game called Simplistic Submarine.  The entire Insession family also helps the boys with their ode to Jason Bourne.  Yo-Ho-Ho mateys! All that and more on this episode of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast.

NOTES
Dr. Strange Trailer
Wonder Woman Trailer
Justice League Trailer
Blair Witch Trailer
Kong Skull Island Trailer
Rocketeers
Fantastic Beasts Trailer
Hacksaw Ridge Trailer

MUSIC
Let It Happen By Tame Impala
1976 By RJD2
I Dream Of genie Remix 
Chronos By Hi-Finesse

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July 25, 2013

V/H/S/2

WORTHY

V/H/S/2 – Worthy

There are certain things in life that you can count on; death, taxes, and numerous sequels to horror films.  Trust me, it’s inevitable once a studio smells money, not to mention the fact that horror films are normally the cheapest genre films to make, especially when those horror films are of the “found footage” variety.  Thankfully, it seems that this horror genre is starting to wind down, but when its done right and provides a story and narrative that is not only scary but provides just enough humor, it can be tolerable.  This brings me to the sequel to 2012’s “V/H/S” entitled what else, “V/H/S/2” a worthy sequel to the sleeper hit.

To start, if you haven’t seen “V/H/S” there really isn’t a need.  Sure, it’s entertaining and when watching the sequel you might catch a few Easter eggs from the first film, but aside from that nothing really carries over aside from the format, which features a wrap-around story and four segments that play out over VHS tapes viewed by our “protagonists.” The stories run typical horror movie tropes like ghosts, zombies, demons, and aliens, but it’s how the stories are told that really make “V/H/S/2” better than it’s predecessor.

Part of the fun of “V2” (yes, that’s what I’m calling it the rest of this review because of sick of typing three /) is knowing that the people in charge are fans of the genre themselves.  From Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale, the team behind “The Blair Witch Project” the harbinger of modern “found footage,” to Jason Eisener, the genius behind “Hobo With a Shotgun.”  And while the stories have their ups and downs, namely the wrap-around story, there is just enough freshness injected into the genres that we’ve all seen before, where they seem fresh again.

The basis of “V2” revolves around two private detectives searching for a missing person.  Their keen detective skills take them to an abandoned house that, surprise surprise, is filled with VCRs and piles of VHS tapes.  Of course its only a matter of time before we get to see what’s on the VHS tapes, and while the stories all have their own niche, some are better than others.  The first tape “Phase 1 Clinical Tests” is a strong start, but if you’ve seen the segment from “John Carpenter’s Body Bags,” Eye, you’ve seen this story before.  But the strongest story, Safe Haven, sets the bar pretty high if there are going to be more editions of “V/H/S” in the future.  Gareth Evans, the director of “The Raid: Redemption,” pulls what he knows about Indo-China and puts a horror/religious cult/zombie/Apocalypse spin on it.  It might seem like a mish-mosh of multiple genres, but it works really well with plenty of suspense and a funny little twist come the end of the story.

One of the weaker segments is “Slumber Party Alien Abduction.”  Sure enough, the title of the segment tells you everything you need to know;  there’s a slumber party, and aliens invade.  While the story is weak and you see everything coming a mile away, the introduction of the aliens works well, along with some decent scenes of suspense, but the fact that you want the characters in the segment to all die/be abducted, takes away from the overall feel of the segment.  Yes, all the characters pretty much all talk like they walked off the set of “Hobo With a Shotgun,” but that doesn’t make it good.

If you’ve become as jaded as I have with the horror genre, “V2” is a shot in the arm once again.  Thankfully, the “torture porn” era has been ushered out, but it’s been replaced with “found footage porn,” which just sounds like an film you’d go buy down at your local XXX Emporium now that I think about it, and personally I much rather see Sasha Gray getting filled out like an application by Evan Stone than see another “Paranormal Activity” sequel, but I digress.  “V/H/S/2” is a sequel that takes what was best about it’s predecessor and expands on the visuals, storytelling, and overall feel.  There is a greater sense of dread in each story, maybe because if you’re a fan of anthology horror you always know that there is a twist.

What’s been missing from the horror genre for the past decade is that sense of dread.  Yes, the gore has gotten better and the body count has gone up, but if your sole purpose as a horror director is to simply gross the audience out and not provide any “horror,” than what’s the point.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good gore-fest, I mean I loved the “Evil Dead” remake and that was a blood-spewing extravaganza.  My point is that while studios and directors stick to the same tropes in horror that sell, when is the genre allowed to grow?  “V2” shows that the genre still has some fresh ideas, and when you get enough creative people together that love horror films, new ideas can be milked from an already tired sub-genre, namely, zombies, in the segment “A Ride in the Park.”

Bottom line, take “V/H/S/2” for what it is; an all-around solid horror flick that has some staying power.
Considering the fact that website, Bloody Disgusting, is involved, there are some good minds behind possible sequels, and I’d personally like to see a few more established horror directors hop on board, such as Adam Green, Eli Roth, and maybe some old school types like Stuart Gordon or (just wishing here) Guillermo del Toro.  Blockbuster Video might be gone, but make it a “V/H/S/2” night.

Fun Fact:  VHS tapes typically record using three formats; SP (Standard Play), LP (Long Play), and SLP (Super Long Play).

October 5, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, V/H/S

V/H/S – Dizzy

Between you and me, I’m sick of found footage films. It all started with “The Blair Witch Project,” which, yes, was a very cool idea, and the fact that everyone bought into the fact that this really happened to three kids in the woods was amazingly effective, and in turn it still stands as one of the most successful independent films of all time.  We’ve come a long (annoying) way from 1999, where it’s now chic to make every film, and even TV (see the failed ABC experiment “The River”), another found footage vehicle.  First we had the torture porn phase, and we have transitioned to everything found footage, and horror auteurs wonder why people won’t take the genre seriously anymore.  I know, this seems like a rant, well I’m done, but I do believe in the thought that if you’re going to do something that everyone else is doing you might as well make it good (sorry “Paranormal Activity” you’ve run your course).  This brings me to 2012’s “V/H/S” and a slight ray of hope for the horror genre.

The premise is simple; five stories and one wrap-around that runs the gamut of zombies, haunted houses, aliens, and psycho killers.  But I will admit, within the first three minutes, I was feeling dizzy.  The camera just moves and moves and moves and moves.  Warning to any viewer who might be sensitive to motion sickness, this film will mess you up. 

Aside from the camera work, the stories are actually well constructed and fairly original.  The highlights to me include the first story “Amateur Night” where some raucous party-goers looking for the old “in-out, in-out” run into the proverbial “quiet girl,” and the last tale “October 31, 1998,” directed by the film collective Radio Silence, create a haunted house tale with a twist.  I can find something I liked in all the stories, but these two were the standouts.

Is “V/H/S” re-inventing the wheel….no, but it is a fresh look on the found footage genre that has been bogging down horror movies for the past few years.  I’m all for independent spirit, especially when it comes to horror films, and the guys behind “V/H/S” have a bright future as long as they build on their success with “V/H/S,” buck the found footage trend, and lead the genre into a renaissance.

Fun Fact:  VHS,short for “Video Home System,” was created in 1971 in Japan.

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