Every V/H/S Segment, Ranked

Like most film genres, when it comes to horror what’s big now won’t necessarily be what’s big in the future. One year it’ll be the latest splatter film from Eli Roth and the next it’ll be the ghostly frights of James Wan. One of the few things to stay consistent is the anthology film format. A concept used since the beginning of film (1916’s silent epic Intolerance) it is when a film is made up of several shorts instead of one big narrative. While this style of film is present in all genres it has come to be most associated with horror thanks to the success of UK movies like Tales from the Crypt and Asylum. Since then movies like Creepshow and Trick ‘R Treat have become fan favorites. More recently we have seen an influx of horror anthologies from around the world with one of the first movies to bring back this trend being V/H/S.

First released in 2012 the V/H/S series quickly gained fans by getting some of the hottest up-and-coming directors together at the time and mixing them having them make a found footage short. Going for three films it has provided some of the best and most memorable horror shorts of the past decade. Each entry giving popular directors the chance to make whatever they want as long as it is found footage. It’s an interesting concept that fans still watch today. So, before you go back to watch the V/H/S series for Halloween here is each movie’s segment ranked from worst to best.


16. Gorgeous Vortex

Director: Todd Lincoln
From the Movie: V/H/S: Viral
Easily the worst of the shorts due to one simple reason, it isn’t found footage. While the filming style is used every now and then Gorgeous Vortex is more of a typical short film than anything else. While it certainly has its merits this Victoria’s Secret meets American Psycho short is the worst of the three films.

15. Dante the Great
v-h-s-viral-credit-magnet-releasing (1)

Directed By: Gregg Bishop
From the Movie: V/H/S: Viral
It seems by V/H/S: Viral directors were getting a bit tired of the VHS tapes conceit. While some are still shot on handheld cameras Dante the Great is done in a faux-documentary style. Unfortunately it doesn’t work out. Using a mix of talking heads and security footage there’s a certain it doesn’t quite fit together. A shame because I love the idea. A magician using real magic and how it is corrupting him has the potential to be fun in a found footage setting. Too bad it didn’t work out.

14. Tape 56

Directed By: Adam Wingard
From the Movie: V/H/S
The framing device is always a tough thing to pull off. You should be able to tell a story while introducing each short logically. It is a struggle for most horror anthologies to pull off. In the first V/H/S they choose to use a group of criminals entering a mysterious house to retrieve VHS tapes while being dispatched one by one. It isn’t particularly inspired nor is it a great showcase for director Adam Wingard. Fortunately, it is surrounded by some killer shorts.

13. Tape 49

Directed By: Simon Barrett
From the Movie: V/H/S/2
Like the wrap around story from the first film Tape 49 follows a couple hired to search for a tape. The two soon learn that they’re in for their own V/H/S tape. While it doesn’t tread new ground, it works better than Tape 56 thanks to our two leads. Unlike the bro-criminals from the first film these two are a likable duo who are fun to follow. Aside from an anti-climactic end it a solid story to follow throughout the film.

12. Vicious Circles
v-h-s-viral-credit-magnet-releasing (2)

Directed By: Marcel Sarmiento
From the Movie: V/H/S: Viral
V/H/S: Viral is generally considered the worst of the series due to it straying too much from the first two. Oddly enough this works when it comes to Viral‘s framing device. Instead of focusing on people trying to steal a tape we follow Kevin, a videographer trying to have a video of his own go viral. When his girlfriend is kidnapped he goes searching for her and seeing the effects these V/H/S videos are having on the world. Even though it is a bit on the nose in its message the idea of the world being infected by these videos had a lot of potential. While far from perfect with ambitious intentions Vicious Circles is the franchise’s best framing device.

11. Second Honeymoon
v-h-s-credit-magnet-releasing (1)

Directed By: Ti West
From the Movie: V/H/S
For the past decade one of the most promising young directors has been Ti West. He has delivered hit after hit with movie such as House of the Devil, The Innkeepers and The Sacrament. It looks like we may get the same with his entry for the first V/H/S. The buildup is great and, while questionable, the behavior of our leads makes for good horror fodder. Unfortunately, the climax is so quick that it leaves audiences a bit disappointed. It’s not necessarily a bad short it just didn’t leave up to its potential.

10. A Ride in the Park
v-h-s-2-credit-magnet-releasing (1)

Directed By: Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale
From the Movie: V/H/S/2
The idea of a found footage film from the point of view from the zombie sounds like a great idea. Not only does it have the surefire win of a zombie movie but does it in a way nobody had done before. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quit work out. What could have been chaotic fun goes through the motions before a creative, if disappointing, conclusion.

9. Slumber Party Alien Abduction
v-h-s-2-credit-magnet-releasing (2)

Directed By: Jason Eisener
From the Movie: V/H/S/2
A popular anecdote in the film community is how originally Steven Spielberg intended for Close Encounters of the Third Kind to be a horror movie called Night Skies. While this never came to be fans of Spielberg get a glimpse of what it could have been with Slumber Party Alien Abduction. Director-writer Jason Eisner does a fantastic job nailing the “kids will be kids” style Spielberg was known for when portraying the sleepover, water fights and talking about girls. It nails how kids act perfectly. Then we get the alien abduction which isn’t as fun. Consisting mostly of jump scares none of it feels any different from any other alien movie. From the grey skin and black eyes to the placement of the scares it all feels done before. Perhaps if it were longer it’d work better but it’s fairly average as is.

8. The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger
v-h-s-credit-magnet-releasing (2).jpg

Directed By: Joe Swanberg
From the Movie: V/H/S
Before Unfriended and The Den one of the first horror movie to be filmed through video chat was this short by Joe Swanberg. More known for his mumblecore dramedies this dive into horror is a good little thriller. Relying more on shadows and mystery this short relies on misdirection more than anything else. Teasing a classic ghost story, it takes a shocking turn into science fiction at its conclusion. While a bit slow at points the mystery surrounding The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger makes this short worth a watch.

7. Bonestorm
v-h-s-viral-credit-magnet-releasing (4)

Directed By: Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead
From the Movie: V/H/S: Viral
In the horror genre there are audiences will always question certain tropes. Why did they run upstairs, why are they going out alone and perhaps most frustratingly, why does nobody fight back? Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead seem to have the same question because they answer that is exactly what happens. As it turns out, it’s an absolute blast. No matter what supernatural trickery the death cult tries they are taken down with either a punch to the face or a bullet, both of which are equally satisfying. While one of the least scary shorts of the series it remains one of the most enjoyable of the franchise.

6. Phase I Clinical Trials
v-h-s-2-credit-magnet-releasing (3)

Directed By: Adam Wingard
From the Movie: V/H/S/2
After losing his eye in a car accident Herman (played by director Wingard) is lucky enough to have his eye replaced by a bionic implant. Attached with a recording chip it lets the corporation, and the audience, see what Herman sees. All things considered Phase I is a predictable story hitting all the beats horror fans expect. Surprisingly it is also one of the scarier entries. Thanks to Wingard’s expertise as a director Phase I delivers some of the best jumps of the series.

5. Parallel Monsters
v-h-s-viral-credit-magnet-releasing (3)

Directed By: Nacho Vigalondo
From the Movie: V/H/S: Viral
Director Nacho Vigalondo has always done an excellent job mixing genres. Whether it’s the dark comedy in his ABC’s of Death short to the mind-bending terror of Timecrimes this Spanish filmmaker has always had a unique take on horror and his V/H/S: Viral entry is no different. Mixing heavy science fiction with body horror Parallel Monsters is a unique take on the evil double tropes. Throw in some great looking practical effects and you have one of the best shorts of the series.

4. 10/31/98
v-h-s-credit-magnet-releasing (3)

Directed By: Radio Silence
From the Movie: V/H/S
A good short doesn’t have to be original. Sometimes an old-fashioned campfire tale is as just as good as the most mind-bending, boundary pushing tale of terror. 10/31/98 is a perfect example of this. Taking place during Halloween 1998 10/31/98 is about a group of friends that get caught up in a satanic ritual. With decent effects and a likable cast 10/31/98 is an insanely fun haunted house story.

3. Tuesday the 17th
v-h-s-credit-magnet-releasing (4)

Directed By: Glenn McQuaid
From the Movie: V/H/S
Throughout the series we see all kinds of twists on the VHS tape conceit. Some have the movie being filmed on GoPros while others are supposed to be wedding/honeymoon videos. While clever ideas none are quite like Tuesday the 17th. When a group of friends head into the woods their camera starts to act up. What we get is a killer who only appears in tracking errors only known as “The Glitch.” It’s an interesting concept that works perfectly in the film. With its interesting concept and unique take on found footage concept Tuesday the 17th is one of the best shorts in the franchise.

2. Safe Haven
v-h-s-2-credit-magnet-releasing (4)

Directed By: Gareth Evans
From the Movie: V/H/S/2
Perhaps the coolest part of the V/H/S franchise has been seeing non-horror directors taking a step into the horror genre. The best example being Safe Haven directed by Gareth Evans. Best known for The Raid: Redemption and The Raid 2, Save Haven follows a documentary film crew filming the ‘People of Paradise Gate’ cult. As they interview the cult’s leader, simply known as father, they realize his ulterior motives. Like his Raid movies Gareth Evans pulls no punches and delivers intense, bloody carnage in the way only he can.

1. Amateur Night

v-h-s-credit-magnet-releasing (5)
Directed By: David Bruckner
From the Movie: V/H/S
Sometimes you perfect things the first time. That’s certainly the case for V/H/S and their inaugural short Amateur Night. Trying to make get rich quick with amateur porn friends Shane, Patrick and Clint go out for a night on the town. What they meet is a shy, lovelorn woman with a secret. What follows is one of the best horror shorts of the past decade. From a novel use of found footage and practical effects to sharp dialogue from writer-director David Buckner it is a fun ride from start to finish. Popular enough to spawn the full-fledged movie SiREN it is easy to understand why Amateur Night is the best V/H/S segment.

Be Kind, Rewind
Since the 2014 release of V/H/S: Viral most of the directors have gone on to great acclaim. Then up-and-coming directors like Adam Wingard (Death Note), Nacho Vigalando (Colossal) and Ti West (Scream: The Series) have been able to use the V/H/S series to work on bigger projects. Meanwhile more indie directors like David Bruckner have developed their own independent projects such as 0.. With so many talented indie horror filmmakers out there, it might be time to rewind this V/H/S tape one more time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s