'Chilling' horror film comes with a warning

By Chris Schulz

A scene from horror film V/H/S. Photo / Supplied
A scene from horror film V/H/S. Photo / Supplied

One of the contributors to a gruesome ensemble horror film screening in Auckland tonight says it "scared the living hell" out of him when he saw it for the first time.

Found footage horror flick V/H/S, screening at SkyCity Theatre as part of the Film Festival, brings together five directors - Adam Wingard, Ti West, David Bruckner, Joe Swanberg and Glenn McQuaid - who supplied their own 20-odd-minute short films to the movie.

The separate segments are tied together by an overall story arc involving a group of burglars who begin watching a pile of video tapes they found in a creepy house.

Reviews have been positive, with an 80 per cent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where reviewers have called V/H/S "chilling," "ingenious" and would make viewers "sleep with the light on".

One Sundance Film Festival viewer found the film so overwhelming he passed out.

Co-director David Bruckner, who is in Auckland as part of the Film Festival, said he was amazed at how well the director's contributing pieces worked together.

"I got to be a fan of the other films, and I can say there are one or two in particular that scare the living hell out of me," he told nzherald.co.nz.

"I haven't wanted to go in and watch them again."

Bruckner said he had been amazed at how many of the same story threads showed up in the directors' shorts, which were written and filmed separately.

"With V/H/S a lot of it is preying on the ideas of voyeurism. We've all got video cameras in our pocket. What are some of the things you've wanted to do with a video camera that maybe you shouldn't? Have you ever taken a photo you shouldn't? Do you not want someone to look through your phone?

"One of the things we try to do is to find something you have a personal experience with (and use that) to springboard from that into the genre stuff and it will have more of an effect."

Bruckner, who also helmed 2007's The Signal and 2011's Talk Show, said horror films were a great entry point for young filmmakers.

"These images are compelling on a visceral level. They can arouse these sensations in you and that you can use those to manipulate an audience into a certain direction."

As for that viewer that passed out at Sundance, Bruckner says V/H/S wasn't solely to blame.

"He had been driving all night, he'd had a lot to drink, it was a high altitude and he was feeling a bit queasy. It was a combination of all those things and what was going on on screen.

"He did pass out, it was very scary for all of us (but) it turns out he was fine."

* V/H/S screens at Sky City Theatre at 9.30pm as part of the Film Festival.

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