Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Women in Horror: V/H/S

V/H/S is an anthology film that has a frame narrative that weakly ties together 5 other horror vignettes. I am so happy I didn't spend any actual money on this film because it made me angry and sad. All of the stories are exceptionally misogynistic and have no redeeming or likable characters at all. Plus many have the worst picture quality and the most nauseating camera work I have seen. Spoilers ahead.

Frame Narrative/Tape 56

This story features a group of idiot men than go around harassing women, forcing them to expose their breasts, stealing, vandalizing, and generally being criminals while video taping it and putting it online. They talk about extending their exploits into upskirt shots and one of them men covertly video tapes having sex with a woman, who then finds out and is rightly outraged about it. Both of these situations are just disgusting, degrading, and awful to watch. An anonymous person pays them a large amount of money to break into a house and steal a VHS tape, where they find and watch the tapes of the following vignettes. These characters eventually die, but it seems we are still expected to sympathize with them in the face of an inhuman foe. This was the worst of the segments for me and it didn't help that the footage of a woman being forced to bear her breast was played over and over during the end credits. Really, directors??

Amateur Night

This segment features another bunch of idiot men (that I initially mistook for the first group) that rent a hotel room for sex and have a pair of glasses that act as a camera so they can video tape sex without the woman's knowledge. Again. This group swiftly get their just desserts when they pick up a strange woman named Lily. They take her back to their hotel room and she proceeds to kill every one of them, slitting throats, biting, and eventually flying off with one of them. The scene where two of the men are cowering in the bathroom as they hear her killing their friend prompts the audience to feel sympathy for them despite their disgusting actions. The woman here is literally a monster, losing any sort of sympathy of being lured to their room after revealing herself to be this way.

Second Honeymoon

Sam and Stephanie go to the west and stay in a motel to celebrate a second honeymoon. A masked intruder comes into their room at night to steal money, expose Stephanie's ass for the camera (and caress it with a switchblade), and put Sam's toothbrush in the toilet. Sam is belligerent towards Stephanie the next day and blames her for stealing the money, saying it wouldn't be the first time. The next night, the masked intruder returns to kill Sam and is revealed to be Stephanie's lesbian lover. The two women make out for the camera and run away together. The women here are more human, but exhibit monstrous behavior in murdering Stephanie's husband in order to be together. Stephanie is shown to not only be a liar and a thief, but complicit in murder.

Tuesday the 17th

Wendy and her new friends go on a camping trip in the woods. She leads them through the woods while narrating where her friends died when she was a kid there. Her friends start dying one by one, killed by some sort of creature hidden by tracking lines and accompanied by a super annoying noise. Wendy reveals she brought the group there as bait to be able to confront the creature again. Seriously, who would do this?? Wendy is obviously a horrible sociopath that values revenge over 3 other people's lives plus her own.

The Sick Thing that Happened to Emily When She Was Younger

Emily and James are dating and video chat frequently. Emily has an annoying bump on her arm that reminds her of an accident she has when she was young. Then she takes off her top for the camera. She is convinced that her house is haunted because of child-like creatures she sees at night. After trying to confront them, she is knocked out by the creatures and James, who had been watching on the webcam, dashes into the room and extracts an alien fetus from her back. He mentions he has to make it look like an accident and  asks the aliens how much longer they plan to use her as an incubator. The next scene is a bruised Emily with a broken arm sobbing and saying James should have a normal girlfriend because he made up a story about her walking into traffic in a fugue state. He reassures her and starts a video chat with another girl with the same bump and also takes off her top for him. These women's bodies are literally being penetrated and used as an alien breeding ground without their knowledge. James is abusing these women to make the injuries from the surgery look incidental to an accident, making them think they are crazy, and effectively ruining their lives.


Yet another group of idiot men go to the wrong house for a party. They walk into an exorcism and encounter crazy weird happenings, a possessed girl, and death. This segment is the only one with any real suspense and pretty cool visual effects. The arms coming out of walls of the house seriously reminded me of the super low budget effects of Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast. The windows shrinking and disappearing and the handprints on the walls were a nice touch. The woman here is part victim being invaded by a demon and part frightening monster.

These short films had no real element that linked them all, which simply feels lazy to me. The frame narrative didn't add much except to put in some more objectification and abuse towards women. In all of the segments except for the last one, women strip or are stripped for the male viewer's enjoyment, which is annoying because there is essentially no reason for this. I don't mind nudity, but there should be a reason for it, not just to sleazily add to the number of breasts shown in the film. The time those shots took in the film could have been used to create some suspense or some sort of characters development. It also seems to assume that only men are the target audience because of the way women are viewed and judging from the characters the audience should be sympathetic to.

If only one segment had some sort of misogynistic element, it could have been reasoned away or dismissed. However, every single segment either has women being violated, women as monsters, or women as victims. No characters were fully fleshed out or had any real redeeming qualities at all. This film is all about objectifying, victimizing, or demonizing women. The majority of the men here are awful, ranging from criminals to abusers. I would not recommend this for anyone. Please spend your money and time on good horror anthology films like Michael Dougherty's Trick 'r Treat.

My rating: 1/10 fishmuffins

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