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Glenn Mcquaid (#110 of 2)

SXSW 2012: V/H/S

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SXSW 2012: <em>V/H/S</em>
SXSW 2012: <em>V/H/S</em>

Some anthology films have the innate capacity to withstand the occasional subpar self-contained segment without souring the film’s overall experience. A movie like V/H/S, a gathering of found-footage horror shorts from buzz-worthy names in independent film, feels more like a cinematic experiment or a test in storytelling than a true feature film, so viewing it becomes more about seeing how each director (Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Ti West, and the online film collective Radio Silence) responds to the challenge rather than how the segments come together as a whole. Some of the film’s pieces don’t shine as brightly as others, yet it doesn’t change the fact that watching V/H/S is a gruesome and twisted blast.

Aside from their surface-level similarities (namely, being horror stories told through POV found footage), the segments are loosely tied together by a thin plot involving a gang of low-life criminals hired to steal a mysterious videotape from a spooky, rundown house. All they’re told is that they’ll recognize the desired footage when they see it, so the group begins watching a pile of VHS tapes one by one, witnessing an array of horrific and unnatural events as caught on video.

Sundance Film Festival 2012: Shut Up and Play the Hits and V/H/S

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Sundance Film Festival 2012: <em>Shut Up and Play the Hits</em> and <em>V/H/S</em>
Sundance Film Festival 2012: <em>Shut Up and Play the Hits</em> and <em>V/H/S</em>

Shut Up and Play the Hits, Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern’s documentary about the emotional toll that LCD Soundsytem’s final live show had on frontman James Murphy, dances around the fact that the band was essentially a solo act. (Though Murphy performed all of the instruments on LCD Soundsystem’s self-titled debut, a number of people, Nancy Whang and Pat Honey among them, became an integral part of the band’s sound after Murphy took the album on the road.) This is presumably the reason why Murphy is the only person associated with LCD Soundsystem who’s interviewed in the film and therefore gets to tell us what the end of the band signifies.

Since we know Murphy isn’t retiring from making music, why are we seriously mourning the death of what was originally a one-man band? The answer is we’re not really mourning, because Murphy isn’t completely serious about burying the band. The doc starts with a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek epitaph: “If it’s a funeral, let’s have the best funeral ever.” Still, there’s genuine sentiment behind that opening intertitle. This is shown in footage of Murphy dazedly walking around after the band’s final performance and later during a lunchtime interview conducted by Chuck Klosterman. He also tells the crowd at Madison Square Garden that he wears his father’s watch while performing for good luck, which suggests he’s sentimental about the prospect of ditching the band. But isn’t it enough that Murphy will just move on to his next project?