If you wish to go to the current Fangoria site, you may click the top logo, "Home" or "News" links. Or click here.
The anthology is primed to make a big comeback, and V/H/S is at the forefront. With the time honored tradition of the omnibus meeting found footage halfway, the film offers a new perspective on a classic subgenre, with some of horror's brightest newcomers behind it all. After months of post-Sundance anticipation, the film hits VOD tomorrow, August 30 from Magnolia Pictures and Magnet Releasing. FANGORIA spoke to the myriad of filmmakers contributing to V/H/S and below, you can take in our chat with A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE's Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, as we talk their wraparound segment, "Tape 56," filming our whole lives and much of the criticism directed towards V/H/S and its gender roles.
FANGORIA: V/H/S is a film where its segments were crafted
independently of one another, yet all manage to hint at similar themes
throughout. One of them is this need to validate our modern existence through
filming, did that play into the film during genesis?
ADAM WINGARD: I guess in a lot of ways, subconsciously, that’s
the reason why everybody makes movies. I guess, maybe, the found footage thing
brings that to more of a literal level, where you’re seeing people actively
doing that. I was expecting you to go down the line of “guys who’re afraid of
women.” That’s usually the first thing we get.
SIMON BARRETT: But that is a really interesting question. I
think in these modern times where people will be out experiencing an event and
posting about it, and checking in on Foursquare, and tweeting about it, taking
photos for their Tumblr… I do feel like it’s indicative of a desire to get some
sort of immortality. Look at the way anyone creates anything. The internet
gives us an ability to have evidence of our existence and found footage kind
of, it just seemed impossible to address people filming themselves and that
kind of compulsive behavior without delving into that a little bit. I don’t
know if we have more to say about that than just that exists [laughs]. It is
interesting, but I don’t think we have a deeper grasp of that. It does
certainly help you to make found footage movies now with everyone recording
everything at all times.
usually the main obstacle with found footage. “Why are these people filming
themselves, especially in dangerous or terrifying situations? Why do they keep
rolling?” But, like Simon said, it’s gonna get easier to keep legitimizing as
time goes on, because people are filming more and more of their regular lives,
and equipment—like the video glasses and all that stuff—you don’t even have to
be aware that you’re filming, it’s just going on. And so, it just legitimizes
the whole genre even more as technology develops.
BARRETT: I am really intrigued by the compulsion to record
and post online and stuff, but I do it, I’m not judging it. It’s this kind of
FANG: It shows up in each of them in different forms. In
Glenn McQuaid’s, there’s a sense of “no one will believe me otherwise,” and the
Skype one is similar.
BARRETT: And he’s recording it, though he tells her that he’s
not at times. That stuff, we definitely wanted to play with; people recording
when they say that they’re not, that kind of voyeurism. And just I’m fascinated
when I’m having dinner with someone and I look over and they’re checking in on
Foursquare. I don’t understand how Foursquare works, but I’m fascinated by it.
FANG: I’m fascinated, as well. I’m fascinated by getting
badges on GetGlue, I don’t understand
what that is.
BARRETT: Yea, we have a V/H/S sticker, and people are
checking in and getting this V/H/S sticker, which is this weird—it’s not a real
sticker, I guess? [Laughs] I truly do not understand it. Roxanne [Benjamin], our producer
does that. We were at the CABIN IN THE WOODS premiere and she was checking in
on Foursquare and I don’t judge it, I just genuinely am fascinated by—first of
all, I don’t like people knowing where I am. And if I do want people to know
where I am, that’s what Twitter and Facebook are for. I wonder what the next
one is going to be? Probably, we’ll all just have GPS chips in our heads and we’ll
be uploading everything we see.
FANG: You mentioned there’s a lot of debate over men being
afraid of women in V/H/S, but there’s also this hint of everyone having a
predatory nature when they get access to a camera.
WINGARD: I think it enhances that to the audience and that’s
what makes people so much more sensitive about it.
BARRETT: Well, in terms of Feminist film theory, yea, these
horror films are all shot from the male gaze and it’s inherently predatory. Obviously,
we did want to directly address that. Bruckner’s segment, “Amateur Night”
addresses it the best in that it’s a guy wearing spyglasses, trying to seduce
these vulnerable women, and I think the way that short plays out is actually
fairly feminist and subversive, but we’re definitely getting a lot of people
that don’t agree with that take on it. I think possibly just because it contains
those issues and is from the male perspective, people have a hard time seeing
what he’s really trying to say with that. But, that’s their own thing. If someone
comes out of the films and has a different feeling than what we intended, that’s
WINGARD: I feel like people wouldn’t be having this reaction
dealing with the so-called misogyny in the movie, if it hadn’t been a found
footage movie. I think the found footage format itself makes it all the more
visceral, and real and relatable. So, I think people who may already be looking
for those types of things are going to look into it. I was talking to Simon
today about, “What’s the opposite of misogyny?” There are other shorts in this
movie that the guys are totally the villain.
BARRETT: I, personally, always thought that David Bruckner’s
short was fairly empowering to women, but I just think because it touches on
those issues and like Adam said, it’s from the male perspective—
WINGARD: Funny, it’s from the male perspective, but it was
filmed by David’s girlfriend, she’s his DP [Victoria Warren].
BARRETT: People also, just frankly, aren’t used to
ridiculous horror films like ours addressing these topics and not spelling it
WINGARD: At the end of the day, it’s just a fun horror movie.
Especially this film, it’s a serious movie to a certain degree, because of the
violence, and the characters take that violence seriously, but at the end of
the day, it’s just a horror movie. There’s nothing overtly political about this
BARRETT: The thing that bothers me, too, is I think that
horror fans—and this is particularly troubling—just aren’t used to films that
have any kind of subtext or relevance, at all.
FANG: While the genre is made for transgression.
BARRETT: It is, and they’re just not used to films with any
kind of theme unless it’s shoved in their face, or spelled out. If our movie
took some time to really hammer home that we’re addressing gender relations and
voyeurism, male desire vs. female desire, everyone would love it. There’s a lot
more films that have come out recently that have done that and been far less
subtle, and people have really responded to it. But because we don’t address
anything, we just touch on these topics and move on, I think audiences are left
to decide for themselves what we were trying to say and a lot of them are
coming up with the idea that just because we have these issues at all, the
movie is sexist.
It’s interesting, you see movies like THE WOMAN, which some
people feel is very feminist, some people feel is very sexist and it’s just
like, that movie is much more obvious in what it’s doing than us, and it still
divides people and confuses them.
FANG: I think it happens with any possibly feminist work
coming from a man. Obviously, the intention of a rape/revenge movie is always
debatable, but still it often ends up being questionable.
BARRETT: Well, you make films with sexual violence of any
sort and then the filmmakers get up on stage and it’s ten dudes. That’s got to
rub some people the wrong way, and justifiably so. It is a total sausage party
when we get up for a Q&A. Also, we’re fairly jokey and self deprecatory at
our Q&As and I think maybe people don’t realize we do take our work
FANG: Simon, you wrote both the wraparound and the Joe
Swanberg-directed piece. Adam, having directed the wraparound and connective
tissue of the film, do you feel like you maybe didn’t get to play enough. Would
you like to do a more standalone short within these parameters?
WINGARD: [Pictured right] I was concerned about doing the wraparound
initially, because I knew that ultimately we’re probably going to have the
least amount of fun. Everybody else got to freely do a short film basically with
just time parameter. I knew ours, we were going to have to take into account
cutting around everybody’s shorts, which was ended up being more difficult than
I imagined. But, Simon and I are the kind of people that thrive on having a
challenge and it never seems like it’s worth it if it’s not a challenge. We
were just like, “the wraparound’s going to be the hardest part about this
thing. Let’s just do it so at least we know we can do the best job possible and
however it turns out, we can retain some kind of control over the project.”
Plus, it was the first thing that was shot for the movie, which probably wasn’t
the best way to go about it, but it was the only way this project was actually
going to happen.
BARRETT: That’s completely true. There wasn’t even going to
be a wraparound until we called dibs.
WINGARD: It was a really hectic time for the two of us,
because we shot it about a month before we shot YOU’RE NEXT. So, we were in
Missouri and we just used a lot of our infrastructure that we had set up there from
A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE and YOU’RE NEXT.
BARRETT: Yea, we filmed four days in Missouri and then a day
of reshoots in Los Angeles. As soon as they started talking to me about this
concept, I was like, “We want dibs on the wraparound.” I just feel like
wraparounds are never good and it’s just kind of a thankless task. I think we
wanted to do something cool and interesting there. It also is, it was February
of 2011 and the project needed to happen or else it was going to fall apart and
just be a bunch of shorts that get released on iTunes. We really wanted to make
sure the first thing we filmed was something you could build a feature out of.
FANG: Speaking of building a feature, there seems to be a
chance to expand on whatever’s going on in the wraparound. Is that something
you’re thinking about, where these tapes come from? I know Ti West's initially was
connected to the frame.
BARRETT: Speaking in general terms, there’s a
deeper mythology to the overall story of the film that we don’t really touch
on. We didn’t want anything to feel too expository. Now that the film has been
kind of successful and people are responding to it, we are looking at ways to
expand and extrapolate on what’s in V/H/S.
FANG: Does that extend to the Skype one you wrote? There’s
certainly something more there.
BARRETT: Yea, that’s a really good example of one that we
might try to expand on the mythology of. I wrote that for Joe and I
deliberately wrote it to be hinting at things that you can kind of put together
if you’re paying a lot of attention, but mostly it just doesn’t really make
that much sense. I tend to think that’s a good way to scare people. I think
scary things feel that way. At the same time, that’s different from just doing
a bunch of pretentious nonsense that doesn’t all add up because you’re lazy and
you don’t know how to tell a story. There is actually a story logic to that
short and if you watch it, you can put together what’s actually happening.
WINGARD: It’s definitely a short you have to watch more than
BARRETT: Which nobody will ever, ever do [laughs]. So, we
might try to revisit that one in a different project, or a project that’s
related to this one. Actually, both the segments that we worked on for V/H/S
are ones that just hint at what’s motivating the actions.
For much more on V/H/S, see our talk with I SELL THE DEAD's Glenn McQuaid here, and pick up FANGORIA #317 (on sale Sept) for exclusive words with David Bruckner, Joe Swanberg and Ti West.
JOIN OUR COMMUNITY AND BE THE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT NEWS, CONTESTS, EVENTS AND MORE!
All contents © 2011 Fangoria Entertainment