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V/H/S (2012)

“V/H/S” is an anthology that’s much like going through a box of chocolates, if some of the chocolates were filled with ghost peppers and others with the finest truffle.



VHS 2012

Embarking on a journey through the gritty, glitch-laden world of “V/H/S,” a film that stitches together an anthology of horror with the finesse of a mad scientist using scotch tape and a prayer, leaves one with a sense of bewildering entertainment and a mild case of motion sickness. This cinematic experiment, a throwback to the days when VHS was king and the idea of streaming was just a weird noise your modem made, offers a rollercoaster ride of terror, humor, and head-scratching moments that collectively shout, “Eh, why not?”

Let’s start with “Tape 56,” the wrapper story that holds this chaotic collection of tapes together. It’s akin to going on a treasure hunt in your weird uncle’s attic; you’re not sure what you’ll find, but you’re pretty sure it’s going to be covered in dust and only mildly interesting. The segment does its job like a lukewarm appetizer, setting the stage for the main course with the enthusiasm of a high school AV club project. Meh, indeed.

Diving headfirst into the anthology, “Amateur Night” is where the party truly starts. Imagine being a fly on the wall during the worst one-night stand ever, except the fly is you, and the wall is a shaky camcorder held by someone who’s had one too many. It’s a delightful romp into the horror of “what did I just bring home?” with a supernatural twist that leaves you both laughing and checking your locks twice before going to bed. It’s as if the segment whispers, “Great choice, buddy,” as you nervously chuckle at your screen.

Before I get into this next segment – regular readers will already know how I feel about Ti West, so you know where this is going.

Then there’s “Second Honeymoon,” directed by someone who, let’s just say, might not be the first pick for scripting your actual honeymoon. If Ti West were a tour guide, he’d be the kind who accidentally leads you into a broom closet and insists it’s part of the exhibition. The segment is an ode to vacations gone wrong, where the scariest part is realizing you’ve spent actual money to feel this uncomfortable. It’s like finding a worm in your apple, if the apple was a metaphor for your vacation and the worm was just poor decision-making.

“Tuesday the 17th” is a delightful surprise, akin to finding a twenty-dollar bill in the pocket of an old pair of jeans. It’s a refreshing take on the classic “cabin in the woods” trope, with a killer who apparently missed the memo on being properly visible on camera. It’s as if the segment gleefully dances on the grave of traditional horror, all while wearing neon leg warmers and a party hat. It’s great, in a “what the heck am I watching, and why do I like it?” sort of way.

“The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger” is the equivalent of receiving a bizarre, unsolicited message from an ex. It’s intriguing, a little unsettling, and leaves you pondering, “Well, that was a thing that happened.” The segment mixes paranormal activity with Skype calls, resulting in an experience that’s oddly relatable yet completely out there. It’s okay, not spectacular, but like that weird message, you can’t help but think about it afterward.

Finally, “10/31/98” wraps up the film like a Halloween party thrown by your most eccentric friend. It’s chaotic, filled with questionable decisions, and surprisingly a lot of fun. The segment is a haunted house ride that took a detour through an actual haunted house, with the added bonus of friends who are as clueless as they are well-intentioned. It’s a great end to the anthology, leaving you with a sense of exhilaration and a mild wonder at the resilience of old camcorders.

In sum, “V/H/S” is an anthology that’s much like going through a box of chocolates, if some of the chocolates were filled with ghost peppers and others with the finest truffle. It’s an uneven journey through the bizarre and the brilliant, leaving you entertained, confused, and possibly in need of a good old-fashioned CRT TV to get the full experience. Whether it leaves you laughing, screaming, or just scratching your head, “V/H/S” proves that horror, much like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder… or in this case, the unsuspecting viewer clutching their remote.

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Imaginary (2024)

The second half of the movie decides to opt for an expository dump that feels like reading the film’s Wikipedia plot summary out loud.



Imaginary Review

“Imaginary” (2024) kicks off with the potential to be the dark horse of psychological horror, only to gallop headfirst into a wall of clichés, transforming what could have been a sleek, shadowy steed into, well, a bit of a donkey show. This film, promising a sinister dive into the world of childhood fears and imaginary friends, unfortunately ends up as a guided tour through every horror movie trope the genre has ever coughed up.

The journey begins with Jessica, a children’s book author whose nightmares are about to leap off the page and into her real life, thanks to a stuffed bear named Chauncey. This isn’t your average teddy bear picnic; it’s more like a bear trap for any semblance of original storytelling. The setup has all the trappings of a classic horror flick: a new home with a creepy past, a child bonding a little too enthusiastically with an inanimate object, and night terrors that have more screen presence than the living characters.

For a moment, it’s like the film is building something genuinely spine-tingling—Jessica’s haunted past, Alice’s eerie new friend, and a series of disturbing events that suggest we’re in for a thrill. But just as you’re about to commend “Imaginary” for its daring, it veers off into the realm of the painfully predictable. The second half of the movie decides that subtlety is out of style and opts for an expository dump that feels like the cinematic equivalent of reading the film’s Wikipedia plot summary out loud.

Gloria, essentially the plot’s mouthpiece, might as well start with “Previously on ‘Imaginary'” for all the finesse she brings to the unfolding story. And as we’re dragged kicking and screaming into the Never Ever realm, you can’t help but wish you’d been left behind in the safety of the mundane world, where the scariest thing is the prospect of sitting through another horror cliché.

The film’s climax, intended to be a crescendo of fear and revelation, instead feels like being stuck on a merry-go-round that’s lost its charm. You’re just going in circles, past the same old horror scenery you’ve seen a thousand times before. The attempt to weave a complex narrative about childhood trauma, imagination, and family bonds ends up tangled in its own web, leaving viewers not so much scared as they are exasperated.

By the end, “Imaginary” doesn’t just jump the shark—it performs a lackluster somersault over a pool of every horror film it tries to emulate, landing with a splash that leaves you drenched in disappointment. The only thing scarier than the movie’s antagonist is the realization that you’ve spent 90 minutes waiting for a twist or turn that could redeem the whole endeavor, only to be left with the sinking feeling that the real horror was the missed potential along the way.

“Imaginary” could have been a mesmerizing exploration of the dark corners of our past that haunt us. Instead, it opts for a joyride through the amusement park of horror clichés, leaving us not with the exhilarating fear of a rollercoaster’s drop but the queasy regret of a ride on the teacups. The best thing about this movie was the fact that it ended.

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Night Swim (2024)

Night Swim tries to tread water in the realm of originality, yet can’t seem to shake off the chlorine-scented shadow of its Amityville-inspired roots.



Night Swim Review

Bryce McGuire’s Night Swim (2024) dives into the deep end of the supernatural horror genre, only to find itself paddling in the shallow waters of predictability. This tale of a family besieged by a malevolent force lurking in their backyard pool attempts to make a splash but ends up more of a gentle ripple in the vast ocean of haunted house (or should we say, haunted pool) narratives.

Ray Waller, a former major leaguer benched by illness, alongside his wife and two kids, moves into what can only be described as the real estate equivalent of a cursed ancient burial ground—complete with a pool that’s less ‘inviting summer oasis’ and more ‘gateway to watery doom.’ The pool, a sinister puddle of malevolence, promises healing but at a price far steeper than any medical bill—think of it as the world’s most terrifying health spa.

The story kicks off with a flashback that serves up the classic horror appetizer: an innocent child, a toy boat, and a pool with a taste for human souls. Fast forward to the present, and the Waller family, blissfully unaware of their new home’s damp and dark history, are ready to dive into pool ownership, complete with a self-sustaining eco-system that screams ‘too good to be true.’

As Ray finds rejuvenation in the murky waters, the film attempts to navigate the waters of suspense and terror but ends up tangled in the pool net of clichés. Eve, the ever-concerned wife, starts piecing together the puzzle with the help of a chatty realtor and the previous owner, uncovering a bargain of aquatic proportions: healing waters in exchange for sacrificial offerings to the pool’s resident ghost. The narrative then swirls into a whirlpool of family strife, supernatural possession, and spirited baseball bat assaults.

Night Swim tries to tread water in the realm of originality, yet can’t seem to shake off the chlorine-scented shadow of its Amityville-inspired roots. The film’s attempt at a haunting aquatic antagonist comes off as a soggy rehash of familiar tropes, leaving us yearning for the sharp bite of originality. Despite this, the performances manage to stay afloat, with the cast doggy-paddling through the script with commendable effort.

Night Swim paddles in the kiddie pool of horror, splashing around with the enthusiasm of a summer blockbuster but ultimately needing to grab onto the safety rails of genre giants to keep from sinking. It’s a film that, while not exactly a cannonball of cinematic achievement, doesn’t completely belly flop into the abyss of forgettable horror flicks. So, if you’re looking for a dive into the shallow end of supernatural scares, Night Swim might just be your tepid cup of pool water—just don’t expect to be swept away by the current.

Night Swim Review
2.5 ScreenDim Score
Night Swim tries to tread water in the realm of originality, yet can't seem to shake off the chlorine-scented shadow of its Amityville-inspired roots.

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You’ll Never Find Me (2024)

“You’ll Never Find Me” is an enjoyably odd journey through the human psyche, with enough quirks and twists to keep you glued to your seat.



You'll Never Find Me

“You’ll Never Find Me” (2024) serves up a psychological thriller that’s one part existential dread, two parts cabin fever with a twist, and a generous sprinkle of monologues.

The stage is set in the most glamorous of locales—a mobile home that’s seen better days, probably around the same time pagers were considered cutting-edge tech. Here we find Patrick, played by Brendan Rock, who exudes the kind of charisma only a man living in isolation at the back of an isolated trailer park can muster. Then, as if Mother Nature herself decided Patrick needed company, a storm blows in, carrying with it a mysterious young woman, portrayed with enigmatic allure by Jordan Cowan.

The first act of the film might feel like you’re back in high school, stuck listening to classmates’ presentations that go on forever. Patrick and his unexpected guest take turns delivering monologues that feel like they’re sat in a cirlce at an AA group, passing a baton between them when it’s their turn to talk. “And how does that make you feel, Patrick?” one can almost hear an off-screen therapist ask.

Once the verbal relay race concludes, once the monologues stop, the real fun begins. The film masterfully cranks up the tension, turning the mobile home into a battleground of wits and wills, reminiscent of a chess match where the pieces are equally likely to hug it out or stab each other in the back.

The single-location setting of the film, far from being a limitation, becomes a character in its own right. It’s like watching a reality TV show where the contestants are locked in a room with nothing but their secrets, except here, the prize is making it through the night without losing your sanity.

Rock and Cowan’s performances are so riveting, they almost make you forget you’re watching two people essentially stuck in a glorified tin can. Rock’s portrayal of Patrick is a study in how to be simultaneously creepy and sympathetic—a man who probably talks to his houseplants because they’re less judgmental than people. Cowan, as the mysterious visitor, brings a sense of intrigue that’s palpable, making you wonder if her character stumbled upon the trailer park by accident or if she’s really just a fan of budget accommodations with a side of impending doom.

The twist ending is the cherry on top of this bizarre, stormy sundae, delivering a payoff that makes the earlier slog worth it. It’s like realizing the slow cooker you begrudgingly filled in the morning actually made something delicious by dinner time.

“You’ll Never Find Me” is an enjoyably odd journey through the human psyche, with enough quirks and twists to keep you glued to your seat. The film manages to turn monologues into an art form, albeit one that might benefit from an intermission. So grab some popcorn, lower your expectations for a fast-paced thrill ride, and settle in for a movie that’s quite happy to take its sweet time getting to the point. It’s a reminder that sometimes, the best stories are like a mobile home in a storm—unpredictable, a little shaky, but ultimately, a shelter from the predictable plots raining down outside.

Review 0
3.5 ScreenDim Score
"You'll Never Find Me" is an enjoyably odd journey through the human psyche, with enough quirks and twists to keep you glued to your seat.

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