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Film / V/H/S

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V/H/S is a 2012 Found Footage anthology film directed by Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, and Radio Silence.

A group of hoodlums are hired by an unknown third party to burgle a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape. Upon arriving, they discover the dead body of the owner and stacks of videotapes. As they search for the right one, they are treated to a seemingly endless number of horrifying videos, each stranger than the last.

  • Tape 56: The frame story.
  • Amateur Night: Three college guys plan on videotaping their sexual encounters and get more than they bargained for when they pick up a strange woman from the bar.
  • Second Honeymoon: A couple on a road trip are stalked by a mysterious stranger.
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  • Tuesday the 17th: A group of twenty-somethings party in the woods and are stalked by an entity that can only be viewed via videorecorder.
  • The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger: A girl talking with her boyfriend via webcam believes that she is being plagued by paranormal phenomenon.
  • 10/31/98: A foursome heads to a Halloween party only to find out that the house hosting it is abandoned.

A sequel titled V/H/S/2 was made in 2013, premiering at the Sundance Film Festival. It features shorts from Gareth Evans & Timo Tjahjanto, Eduardo Sanchez & Gregg Hale, Jason Eisener, Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett. Watch the teaser trailer here. A second sequel entitled V/H/S: Viral was released October 23, 2014.

In 2016, a feature length film based on the concept introduced in "Amateur Night", Siren, was released, with Hannah Fierman reprising her role as Lily.


This movie provides examples of the following:

  • A Dog Named "Dog": Siren, reveals Lily is a "Lilith". True to the original filmmakers' intent; despite many viewers' assumptions, she never was intended to be either a succubus or anything from actual mythology.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: Defied like hell by both Clint in "Amateur Night" and Joey in "Tuesday the 17th" - both are put-off by the circumstances (Clint's broken arm and recently-murdered friends and Joey being told a very flimsy excuse about the absence of their friends before being propositioned.).
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Lily from "Amateur Night" is fairly cute, if slightly creepy - when she transforms, not so much.
  • Alien Abduction: Strongly implied to be the cause of the events in "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger", coupled with Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong, given that James removes what looks to be a fetus from Emily's torso, just below the ribs.
  • Alien Geometries: The house in "10/31/98" has this.
  • All Part of the Show: The initial reaction of the protagonists in "10/31/98" when they stumble upon an exorcism in the attic, gleefully chanting "Cast him down!" - until they see the woman get smacked hard.
  • All There in the Manual: The audio commentary for "Tuesday the 17th" reveals a bit more about the nature of the Glitch, such as the fact that people killed by it become Glitch monsters themselves.
  • Always Save the Girl: The guys in "10/31/98" go back to save the poor captive girl. Unfortunately, once they reach railroad crossing, the favor is not returned.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Every single segment, with the exception of "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger", in which nobody dies.
  • Arc Words: "I like you."
    • Made all the more meaningful by Siren and its revelation that Lily's species mates for life
  • Asshole Victim: While some of the characters in the vignettes fit, the ones in "Tape 56" take the cake. They're a bunch of thugs who spend their time vandalizing houses and forcibly pulling up girl's tops.
  • Back from the Dead: The dead man found by the group in "Tape 56", though we don't learn how.
  • Bastard Boyfriend: Sam from "Second Honeymoon" isn't the best of husbands to Stephanie (pressuring her to let him film her in a state of undress and complaining excessively when she refuses, possibly lying to her about who was at the door, blaming her for disappearing money and being passive-aggressive toward her). This works against him when Stephanie decides to help her new lesbian lover murder him.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Some characters aren't as benign as they initially appear to be.
    • Wendy in "Tuesday the 17th".
    • James from "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger".
  • Body Horror: In ''Amateur Night" Lily starts out with scales on her feet, which only Clint notices, and as things get worse she gets a strange maw-like crease down her face. At the end she goes outright One-Winged Angel. This is also the subject of "The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger"; at first Emily gets a small bump on her arm, which she suspects is from bruising. Later she digs inside her arm with a scalpel and a kitchen skewer after suspecting something in there. But the crowning moment has to be the reveal that she's pregnant with an alien spawn... and it's heavily implied this isn't the first time.
    • Lily's head bump thing is a lot more natural looking in Siren.
  • Book-Ends: "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger" opens with a webcam chat between the title character and James, in which Emily complains about her arm and undresses for the camera. At the end, James switches to a different chat and has almost exactly the same conversation with a different girl, revealing that Emily isn't the only one who has experienced this. Also an example of Here We Go Again!.
  • Bystander Syndrome: In "Amateur Night", the hotel clerks don't let in a man with an obviously broken arm, condemning him to his fate.
  • Camera Abuse:
    • Every story ends with the camera operator murdered, and in a few the camera definitely gets destroyed (leading one to wonder how the old man got the tapes).
    • In "Tuesday the 17th", a splash of blood ends up on the camera and remains there for the rest of the segment.
    • The last shot of "Amateur Night" suggests that the cameraman's camera glasses fall off and hit the ground after Lily swoops down and carries him off.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: There's certainly implications of this trope at work in most of the stories, most noticably in "10/31/98" and "Tape 56".
  • Crapsack World: If indeed all the tapes, including the ones from the sequel(s?) take place in the same world then everybody is screwed. You have malevolent aliens, ghosts, monster/ghost/demons that look like digital glitches; succubi; an insane cult that either brought a rampaging demon into the world or failed to exorcise it; and what looks like a Zombie Apocalypse, an evil corporation (or at least a neglectful one), and psycho lesbians.
    • Siren takes this further - there's a Sinister Minister running a hedonistic business using demons that killed those who summoned them but failed to control them. There are enough demons running loose due to screwed-up summoning that someone can make a living off it.
  • Creepy Child: The aliens in "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger" look like this.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Lily in "Amateur Night". At least, at first.
  • Death by Sex: "Amateur Night", due to the woman being a Horny Devil.
  • Demonic Possession: In "10/31/98" and possibly in "Tape 56".
  • Developing Doomed Characters: Happens quite a bit, even with the short running time with each story.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: While Sam is a bit of a pushy jerk, nothing ever indicated that he was abusive towards his wife which makes his murder rather excessive. She could have just asked for a divorce.
  • Downer Ending: Every single segment:
    • "Tape 56" ends with every single member of the group dead at the hands of the "dead" man (although given that they're textbook examples of Asshole Victim, it's hard to feel much sympathy for them).
    • "Amateur Night" ends with Clive being snatched away by Lily after he witnesses the gruesome demise of his friends.
    • "Second Honeymoon" ends with Sam's murder at the hands of the mysterious stalker, followed by the revelation that the latter is Stephanie's secret lover and that they'd both conspired to kill Sam.
    • "Tuesday the 17th" ends with Wendy being disembowelled by the Glitch - perhaps even a second one - after she'd taken her friends to the woods to try and lure the Glitch out in the first place.
    • "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger" ends with James' manipulations convincing Emily that she's delusional, and reveals that he and the aliens are experimenting on at least one other woman.
    • "10/31/98" ends with the possessed girl causing the group to get trapped in their car on a level crossing and get hit by a train.
  • Dull Surprise:
    • James in "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger". Justified due to the fact that he's in league with the aliens.
    • When Gary finds the bodies of his friends, the appropriate reaction probably shouldn't be to laughingly say "Oh, fuck".
  • Dwindling Party: The hooligans from "Tape 56" go missing one by one.
  • Eldritch Location: The house in "10/31/98" definitely qualifies.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • From "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger" there's James, who prevents the children from killing Emily. Possibly subverted in that he may have been doing it for the sake of avoiding unnecessary police attention. But he does show a degree of care for her.
    • A minor one on "Amateur Night". Shane wasn't outright evil, but his intentions for the night certainly were less than honourable, since the plan was to film the sexual intercourse without the girl's knowledge. But once Lisa falls unconscious in drunken stupor, he stops his attempts with her. The group may be voyeurs but they draw the line at statutory rape.
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts: The killer in "Tuesday the 17th" is invisible and can only show up on tape as interference.
  • Eye Scream: Samantha gets a knife through the back of the skull, and it pokes out an eye from behind.
  • Faking the Dead: The old man in "Tape 56" constantly disappears from his seat, only to show up in the same spot after disposing of the body of whoever was left alone with him.
  • False Innocence Trick: Possibly, in "10/31/98," if the demon were escaping an exorcism and not an instance of Evil, Inc., Hijacking Cthulhu as in Siren.
  • Fan Disservice: Bare breasts, buttocks, and male and female genitalia. All featured during disturbing pseudo-rape sequences or murders. In particular, there's Lily in "Amateur Night", whom we get to see, fully nude, going down on a guy...after having turned into a monster, and covered in the blood of his friends, though she's actually quite hurt that he's terrified rather than aroused. One of the last shots in "Second Honeymoon" is Stephanie, in her bra, making out with her Psycho Lesbian lover... while there is blood all over the latter's hands. Sam's blood.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • Last we see of Clint from "Amateur Night", poor guy's being carried off somewhere by Lily, screaming the entire time.
    • Possibly also Wendy, if her thrashing was that of a disembowelled woman in agony and not a side effect of becoming another Glitch.
  • Final Girl: Wendy in "Tuesday the 17th", but it's subverted; she is the one responsible for all the deaths, as she lured her friends up to the mountains to use as bait to catch the killer.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In "Second Honeymoon", Stephanie and Sam use an electronic fortune-telling machine, and by the end of the segment, both of their fortunes come true in a twisted way: Sam gets a fortune about someone close to him not being trustworthy, and ends up betrayed and murdered by his wife. Stephanie gets one about having a happy reunion with someone, and she and her girlfriend leave together as Karma Houdinis. Other arcs are referenced in the fortune card as well.
    • The main characters in "10/31/98" have to stop at a railroad crossing on the way to the party. On the return trip, the possessed woman they tried to rescue makes the car stall in the middle of the same railroad crossing, causing them to be hit by the oncoming train. They also tease one another about people reaching out of the walls when they start to explore the house, and the guy dressed as a teddy bear nanny-cam finds the same torn-up teddy bear in two different rooms.
      • A lot of the vandalism committed by the Framing Device gang in the vacant house at the film's beginning is similar to how the haunted house gets trashed as the "10/31/98" party-goers are trying to escape.
    • The dead pig found by the characters in "Tuesday the 17th" has its intestine draped over the ground, just like what happens to Wendy at the end. Wendy's comment that the Glitch could be in two places at once. A few minutes later, she succeeds in killing the Glitch... only to be attacked and killed by a second Glitch a few moments later. Samantha's offer to show Spider "something really disgusting" is this considering the Glitch throws a knife through the back of her head moments later, bordering on Tempting Fate.
  • Found Footage Films
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In "Amateur Night", right as Clint approaches Lily and Shane to talk Shane out of having sex with her, there are two long bruises on either side of her spine, foreshadowing her wings coming out at the end to carry Clint off. There are also a number of very brief glimpses of her following them into the club, then eying Clint from afar before she approaches him. And after they arrive at the hotel room, it's shown twice that her tongue is black - once when she licks Clint's cheek, and the second when she roars at Patrick's attempt to interrupt her.
  • Gaslighting: In "The Sick Thing that Happened to Emily When She Was Younger", James turns out to be in league with the aliens and manages to successfully convince Emily that she's delusional.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: Mostly averted, but in "Tuesday the 17th" there are two guys and two girls.
  • Groin Attack: A very horrifying version in "Amateur Night" when Lily rips out all of Patrick's tackle. Thankfully, the guy was dead by this point.
  • Horny Devils: In "Amateur Night" Lily is a succubus-type creature.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Every supernatural foe encountered fits this trope, but Lily and the Glitch stand out in terms of weirdness.
  • Hypocrite: The vandals from the Framing Device all laugh and celebrate as they trash some unsuspecting person's house, only to bitch about it when one of their own number smashes the TV set they happen to be watching.
  • Interface Screw: Strongest in "Tuesday the 17th" as the killer's presence always makes the picture begin to break up, but ultimately used in all of them since non-professional footage almost always includes lag, freezing and pixelization. Noticeable as well in "The Sick Thing that Happened to Emily When She Was Younger" as they're using video chat, which is notorious for "cubing out". So naturally, it happens to Emily's image a couple of times. As one reviewer pointed out, the directors used this to their advantage by timing (probable) cuts with when the cassetes glitch, making it far more seamless than it otherwise would be.
  • Jerkass: Everyone in the movie except for Emily in "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger", and the guys in "10/31/98", who are merely Genre Blind.
    • Arguably Clint as well in "Amateur Night", considering that while he was in on Patrick and Shane's little sexcapade, he wasn't that desperate.
  • Jitter Cam: Throughout. And given what the protagonists of each segment are facing, very, very justified.
  • Karma Houdini: Stephanie and her lover, who kill Sam and escape. Sam wasn't the best of husbands, true, but there was no valid reason whatsoever to resort to murder instead of just divorcing him.
  • Karmic Death: Wendy from "Tuesday the 17th" gets gutted by the killer after manipulating her friends into coming up to the mountain as bait to try and capture him. "Amateur Night" ends with the two douchiest guys killed by Lily, while the (nicer) third is carried away by her; it's vague what happens to him afterward, due to her apparent interest in him combined with his rejection of her.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: While it's mostly averted, the protagonists in "Tape 56" fall into this with predictable results.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: A completely justified version in "Amateur Night", since Clint's left arm just suffered a compound fracture while trying to flee from Lily, who tries to initiate a blowjob while coated in the blood of his friends. To make no mention of those rows of sharp teeth that could snip his member in a blink, among other body horrors.
  • MacGuffin Title: The framing device is based on finding a certain VHS tape.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Emily is only a little curious when she's fishing around in her arm with a steak fork.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Lily from "Amateur Night" pops up frequently before she formally introduces herself, and "10/31/98" has no on-camera supernatural events for several minutes... except for a chair that seems to follow the cameraman.
  • Meaningful Name: Lily from "Amateur Night" has a name that sounds similar to (and is sometimes used as a diminutive form of) Lilith, which happens to be the name of a mythological succubus.
  • Mugging the Monster: Well, more like raping the monster, as Patrick in "Amateur Night" is bitten when he tries to initiate a threesome with Lily and Shane. This is pretty much when everybody begins to understand that Lily isn't just drunk or high, and is what sparks her complete transformation into...whatever she is.
  • Mundanger: "Second Honeymoon" is the only segment, counting the sequel, where there is most probably nothing supernatural going on. The villains are a Psycho Lesbian couple with nothing really abnormal about them aside from being Ax-Crazy.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In "10/31/98" the four main characters interrupt an exorcism and "save" the possessed girl, allowing her to go free and kill them all. Given that they came upon 4 men chanting something weird, surrounding a chained-up girl while one of them held a knife, conclusion-jumping is pretty understandable.
  • The '90s: in "10/31/98", two of the four friends go out to the Halloween party dressed as contemporary news items, the Unabomber and the Nanny Cam.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: in "10/31/98", those guys really shouldn't have gone back to rescue that girl.
  • No Name Given:
    • The killer in "Tuesday the 17th", referred to in the credits simply as, "The Glitch".
    • The aliens in "The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger".
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • Invoked here and there, but really, much of what happens has no explanation, or very sparse. Even in "Tape 56" the thugs aren't sure what they're looking for, or whose house this is. It's implied they don't even know who hired them. And we have no idea how or why the dead old man comes Back from the Dead.
    • In full force during "Second Honeymoon", when, after their encounter with a would-be hitch-hiker after dark, said hitch-hiker is in their room, recording them both with their own camera while wielding a switchblade. Nothing happens that night.
    • Subverted in "10/31/98" which starts out with all the supernatural events happening off-camera (to the annoyance of the cameraman). Of course, that's because he thinks they're just haunted house effects.
  • Obliviously Evil: Possibly Lily from "Amateur Night" and the aliens from "The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger".
  • Oh, Crap!: Wendy in "Tuesday The 17th" when she realizes the Glitch has used either Offscreen Teleportation to escape her carefully constructed trap, or that a second Glitch had found her.
  • Only Sane Man: In "Amateur Night", Clint is the only one who notices something's... off with Lily. Quite ironic given that he's also the one she's most interested in.
  • Overly Long Title: "The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger".
  • Psycho Lesbian: The "twist" of "Second Honeymoon" is that the stalker and the wife are in fact lovers who plotted to murder the latter's husband.
  • Reality Is Out to Lunch: For a brief but intense sequence, the house from "10/31/98" becomes the site of a rapid-fire example.
  • Red Right Hand: Lily's creased forehead and deformed feet hint at her true form.
  • She Who Fights Monsters: Wendy from "Tuesday the 17th", who uses her friends as bait in order to kill the monster in the woods.
  • Shown Their Work: Whether by accident or design, any time the video-cameras pass over a TV-screen, the screens flicker, which was common in the old CRTs shown in the movie.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: Played with in "Amateur Night". After Lily kills their friend the others flee into the bathroom, but realise they can't stay there. They emerge into the darkened hotel room to see a shadowy Eldritch Abomination, but it's only Lily standing in an odd position.
  • Snuff Film: All of them EXCEPT "The Sick Thing that Happened to Emily When She Was Younger", in which nobody dies.
  • Stylistic Suck: It varies, but is most prominent during the wrap-around segment.
  • Tracking Device: The lump on Emily's arm in the fourth storyline turns out to be one of these.
  • The Virus: The audio commentary for "Tuesday the 17th" suggests that those killed by the Glitch Monster become Glitch monsters themselves.
  • Twisted Ankle: In a surprising twist, it happens twice to male horror movie protagonists. Both Clint in "Amateur Night" and Gary in "Tape 56" took a tumble down the stairs running away from the villain in their respective segments, although one of them wound up with a broken arm instead.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Lisa's fate in "Amateur Night". It is likely that she survived since it seems that Lily is a succubus-like creature who only shows interest in men, plus the timeline of events doesn't really leave any space for Lily to kill Lisa, but we have no visual confirmation.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The first thing Lily does before she goes on a rampage and abducts Clint to do who knows what to him? Sit in a corner and cry because he's not attracted to her. You almost forget that she's a monster, and even Clint apologizes... at least until her sobs turn into demonic growls...
  • Yandere: Siren reveals Lily to be this - she isn't a succubus, doesn't kill through sex, and really doesn't appreciate people trying to kill her mate, and she would've killed the protagonist's wife if he hadn't gone to live with her.


Example of: