Today sees the video-on-demand release of V/H/S/2, a sequel to last year's horror anthology. I really enjoyed this new entry (especially the bonkers short about the cult) when I caught it at the Tribeca Film Festival. It's an inventive entry in the found-footage horror, the rampant and cheaply made subgenere in which a character or characters in the film are filming the action we're watching (Paranormal Activity, the only blockbuster horror franchise standing, is an example of this format). As a result, the camera is part of the story and as a result of that, other characters frequently comment on it, at some point telling the operator to put it down or turn it off. From the found-footage grandaddy, 1980's Cannibal Holocaust, t0 the hit indie really responsible for igniting this trend, 1999's The Blair Witch Project, through virtually every other movie within the subgenre, there is at least one person threatening to subvert the format.
Paranormal Activity 4 runs on cheap thrills. After some time set aside for exposition that can be summed up as, "Something weird is going on in a house inhabited by at least one person who is tech-savvy enough to set up surveillance," the movie starts pummeling us with jump scares. If you've ever seen a horror movie, you should be familiar with the jump scare, the trick of a simultaneous on-screen surprise accompanied by a loud sound. These are effective (if always annoying) when used sparsely; in Paranormal Activity 4 they make for a monotonous rhythm.
To love horror movies is to live a life searching for a fix like your first highs and rarely getting it. For me, those first loves were slashers like Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween. Since I saw those movies, I've had hopes for every over-hyped horror film, and those hopes are almost always dashed. Then I saw V/H/S.
Way back a million years ago (2009), MTV filmed a show called Bridge & Tunnel, a reality program about two beautiful belles of Staten Island, New York City's island prison colony. But then, for mystifying reasons, MTV decided to not air the show.