The 'V-H-S' Rewind
Before tonight's last screening, the SXSW debut
By Richard Whittaker, 8:05PM, Fri. Mar. 16, 2012
The Q&A for last weekend's first SXSW screening of horror anthology V/H/S may have meant the most crowded stage the Alamo South Lamar has ever seen.
It was the assembled faces of what increasingly is being dubbed the Mumblegore movement, and it represented a cauldron of talent with a habit of working together. Segment directors Adam Wingard (who directed the wraparound), Ti West (the 'Second Honeymoon' segment) and Joe Swanberg ('The Sick Thing that Happened to Emily When She Was Younger') plus scripter Simon Barrett all worked on the magnificent You're Next, which got its US debut last fall at Fantastic Fest. Both V/H/S and You're Next feature actress Kate Lyn Sheil, who stars in Joe Swanberg's Silver Bullets with West (who also made House of the Devil starring Greta Gerwig and featuring a cameo by another SXSW 2012 alum, Lena Dunham of HBO's Girls, who was also in West's 2011 SXSW smash The Innkeepers.) Dave Bruckner ('Amateur Night') gave West-and-Barrett regular AJ Bowen (who was in the audience but not in the film, but was here for the short 'Sun Don't Shine' which co-stars Shiel and was directed by Amy Seimetz who is also in Silver Bullets and You're Next) his break in The Signal, and as for Glenn McQuaid ('Tuesday the 17th'), he designed the titles for West's The Innkeepers, and wait, is that all right? This probably needs a Venn diagram. Suffice it to say that only YouTube horror collective Radio Silence ('103198') are new to this cadre.
However, they are no strangers to working within the lo-fi restrictions of the found footage genre. West said the film was shot on "a mess of every sort of digital format." Because of the POV-effect, West's camera crew was his cast, so he gave his actors on a pro-sumer camera. Similarly, Bruckner used a mixture of a spy camera in some glasses and a helmet-mounted camera rig (designed by cinematographer Victoria Warren) to simulate the same effect. Meanwhile the wraparound was shot on a real, old school VHS camera. Wingard said, "I wanted to shoot it on a real load-in VHS camera, and the camera we actually used was from (scriptwriter Simon Barrett) and it was the exact same camera I had growing up when I was doing martial arts movies in my back yard."
The other effect of the POV-style? Everyone jokingly argued they should have had a camera credit. However having so many experience indie film makers both before and behind the camera really helped. Bruckner worked closely with his actor Drew Sawyer. Bruckner said, "Part of the reason that we cast the guy is that he's a film maker before he's an actor, so he had a sense of understanding that when he turns his head he's basically creating metapoints."
This is not quite the same version of V/H/S that screened at Sundance: It's a longer edit and the running order for the individual scenes has changed. Now, the good news: V/H/S will be appearing on VOD, starting Aug. 31, followed by a limited theatrical run on Oct. 5. However, you have one last chance to catch it during its SXSW run tonight at the Alamo Ritz at Midnight (and read our review here.)