The Key To Saving Found Footage Movies Lies On V/H/S

Alasdair Stuart writes for Bleeding Cool.

I'm rather fond of found footage movies, some considerably more than others. Done right, as it is in Chronicle and, to my mind, Cloverfield, it instantly makes the narrative more intimate and claustrophobic at the same time as painting in a lot of implied detail outside the frame. Done really right, it can hideously scar the psyche of a generation in the very best way, as shown by Stephen Volk's Ghostwatch. Done wrong it can seem labored, non-committal, a set of shaky bells and whistles designed to distract you from the central narrative. Or the lack of the end of one.

But, as word reaches us that Paranormal Activity 4 has now begun production, here comes the trailer for V/H/S and, well, everything old is new again.

Watched that? Jolly good.

The thing I like straight away is the structure. There's a good reason for the central gimmick of the video tapes and the criminals watching them trying to find the one they've been told to look for seems to be an unusually strong framing narrative that, judging by the end of the trailer, becomes far more of a run, run from the screaming hellhouse narrative towards the movie's end which is again, always a good thing.

Then there's the directors. The five internal movies all have a director to themselves, as well as the directors of the framing narrative and the list reads like a 'Most Likely To Be The Next Big Thing' list. Adam Wingard, director of You're Next, Glenn McQuaid, director of I Sell The Dead, the Radio Silence team, David Bruckner, director of The Signal, Joe Swanberg and Ti West, riding high on The Innkeepers. That's an eclectic group of directors with enough common ground for the movie to be coherent but approaches that differ enough to keep it fresh and different.

But what really sold me on that trailer was the willingness to turn every piece of established horror movie wisdom on its head. We see, it seems, everything, very overtly and very directly and that curdles the horror, changes it from implication to simple, terrifying presence. The webcam gag is a perfect example, simultaneously funny and horrible, as is the hand coming out of the floor, and the aforementioned floating door. This gives every impression of going flat-out from the start and that's something that found footage movies are uniquely equipped to do.

V/H/S is scheduled for release on the 5th of October at theaters but it's going to be available on demand, and through itunes, from August 31st. I'll be seeing it as soon as I can.