06th Dec2016

‘House of VHS’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Morgan LaMorte, Florie Auclerc-Vialens, Ewen Blumenstein, Delphine Lanniel, Isabel McCann, Petur Oskar Sigurdsson | Written and Directed by Gautier Cazenave


A group of young people hailing from six different countries take off for a summer vacation in the French countryside. They force their way into an old abandoned house, and plan on spending a good time despite having no water or electricity. But one of them discovers a dusty trunk full of VHS tapes, with a mysterious VCR that seems able to work without electricity. After they start watching the bizarre movies recorded on the tapes, the students realise that there are strange forces at work, and that their lives might be in danger.

Oftentimes filmmakers will tap into current trends or eras to tell their story (just look at the recent batch of 80s-themed slashers that have been released over the past five years). Using – in many cases – nostaglia as a way to pre-build goodwill with their audience. In the case of House of VHS (also known as Ghost in the Machine in some territories) writer/director Gautier Cazenave taps into the current, rising trend of a passion for dead formats, in this case the love for video tapes.

So here we have a film about killer movies (literally) that plays on the love for VHS in the horror community. Should be good right? After all, V/H/S and it’s sequel did very similar and they were well-received by a lot of genre fans. However despite the title and the key part VHS plays within the film, Cazenave fails to build ANY goodwill towards this film! It really doesn’t help that he packs his cast with a bunch of wooden actors, playing the part of unlikeable, sterotypical, annoying characters – then spends half the movie even getting to the appearance of the titular VHS!

Yes, as if you couldn’t tell already, this is one of those genre films that does nothing but frustrate and disappoint its audience. Frustrate in the fact that there’s nothing and no-one to empathise with; and disappoint in so much as there’s absolutley nothing scary about this so-called horror film… Honestly I got more pleasure watching the included public domain film clips from the VHS tapes the cast of characters were watching than I did from the actual movie.

The only plus(es) to House of VHS is the cool DVD artwork that accompanies this Aussie release – check out that faux Beta artwork above fore just one example – and the movies soundtrack: which is a mix heavy metal and dark synth, both of which really get the audience pumped for what’s to come; and that’s inspite of the fact that on many occassions, said soundtrack doesn’t fit the on-screen action in the slightest!

House of VHS is out on DVD in Australia and on demand from Vimeo now, from Bounty Films.


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