Monday, January 07, 2013

V/H/S – review

Director: Davis Bruckner (segment – Amateur Night)

Release date: 2012

Contains spoilers

V/H/S is a portmanteau film that is all based around the found footage film phenomena. Now, in general, I am not a fan of the found footage type of film, probably because it was brought to prominence by the Blair Witch Project and, quite frankly, I found it to be the most over rated piece of tosh I ever had the misfortune to watch. This, in turn, has threatened to poison me against the entire sub-genre.

Such a reaction is, of course, unfair. There are some astounding found footage films – Rec 1 and 2 for instance. Further, there are found footage films that are not as utterly underwhelming as the afore mentioned Blair Witch Project and this, I am glad to say, is one of them. Indeed I was taken by the inventiveness shown in some of the segments. Essentially the plot of the portmanteau is that a group of video-yobs (idiots who vandalise, assault and sexually harass/exploit, and video themselves doing it) go to a house to steal a video tape for a client. Having found the house’s occupant dead in a chair they view tapes (individually, as others are checking through the house) to ascertain the correct tape for stealing. Each tape has a bizarre story, ranging through supernatural, sci-fi and suspenseful.

Hannah Fierman as Lily
The vampire segment is called Amateur Night and involves three guys visiting a city and using a set of spy glasses, with a hidden camera in, to film what one of them, Clint (Drew Sawyer), gets up to (aimed at getting a lady and secretly filming her). The guys, therefore, have no sympathy as we watch the film (though we have a believable premise for the shooting of the footage). They do, however, get more and more drunk and meet up with some girls. One of them, Lily (Hannah Fierman), seems to take a shine to Clint. It doesn’t seem as though she was with the other girls, she has really large eyes and can only seem to say that she really likes Clint.

she bit me
Cutting through the drunken night out build up, the film ends up with one girl passed out and the three moving to gang bang Lily – it has to be said that Clint doesn’t seem so keen, though he is the only one she seems keen on. When they remove her clothes he notices something odd and misshapen about her feet. He is in the bathroom when one of the other two runs in, she has bitten a chunk out of his hand. Back in the room and she is attacking the third and there is mottling on her shoulder blades. She has sharp small fangs.

why don't you like me?
Both friends are killed, but as unsympathetic misogynists we couldn’t care less, and Clint makes a run for it. He suffers a broken wrist (with bone protruding) as he falls down a stairwell and she catches up with him. She is covered in blood but still seems keen to let him know she likes him. With Clint was she looking for more than sustenance? It seems so, but he rejects her and runs.

on wing
Outside, and before witnesses, the last we see of Clint is him being plucked into the air. She has taken on a bird like form. Then the glasses fall to the ground. What was she? It was suggested that this might be a “Vamp or Not?” but I was so convinced of the vampiric nature that I never went down that line. It would appear she is a different species, one who walks in human guise but whose natural form is very different. Clearly she feeds on humans and I was reminded of some of the Southeast Asian vampire forms. We should also remember that she is called Lily – a reference to Lilith perhaps?

a date with teeth
Really, that’s all she wrote, but it was a compelling little section due to the palpable oddness that Hannah Fierman instils in her character. We know there is something odd about her, we just wait for the film to say what. There isn’t, therefore, any great reveal or twist just a disclosure and confirmation but that is all we need. It does what is necessary and, as the opening story (bar the on-going portmanteau), it sets a positive tone for the segments to come.

For the segment 5.5 out of 10 reflects a solid story and a pleasingly weird vampire, but it does what it says on the tin and no more. There are other stories within the portmanteau that are stronger.

The imdb page is here.


Anonymous said...

It's a Succubus dude, from Greek Mythology. She attracts men, lures them in and then kills them. Like a worse version of a Siren.

Anonymous said...

The girl in Amateur Night is a Succubus dude.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Garym - I accept that she might be, though generally a succubus would be portrayed as sucking energy (thus making them a form of energy vampire) rather than physically devouring.

As far as I am aware - and please feel free to direct me to the Greek sources - Succubae are actually medieval legends and the word is derived from Late Latin. There is some tie in with medieval Jewish mystery as well, and Lilith (who herself often becomes conflated into modern vampire myth).

The sexual connotations actually seem (in reality) to be derived from the same sleep paralysis phenomena that also leads to Mares, vampires and Grey aliens.

There is a lot of cross over between media vampire imagery and succubus imagery - meaning that had I recognised this creature as a succubus I would still have probably looked at it (at least under the category "Vamp or Not?").

The film, of course, doesn't tell us so your interpretation might be correct - but I still feel she has a place here. However, my thanks for taking the time to comment :)

ComputerMan said...

I assumed that Lily is some sort of Demon. I really don't see her as a Vampire. The way she hissed and snarled and had a limited vocabulary, seem like Demon qualities not Vampire ones. Also, the way she over-powered and neutered Clint's two friends for trying to have sex with her doesn't seem like Vampire stuff and even with all the bleeding taking place I didn't see her drinking any of it like a Vampire certainly would've. I don't know too much about Succubuses (Succubii?), but I didn't see where she where the film suggested she's feeding off anyone's energy. I wonder if the screenwriter had a particular type of supernatural type when he created the lily character?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Computerman, it certainly is open to interpretation but - of course - in some versions of vampire story/folklore the vampire can be uncommunicative and could have a demonic heritage...

I agree that she does not appear to be an energy drinker in any way.

It would be interesting to know if the filmmaker had a creature in mind

Anonymous said...

It's a succubus, lily - (Lilith = mother of succubus) she has wings, scaled feed, shes sexually seductive and she likes being on top, dislikes domination, Figure it out.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Vian Malik, please see my comments
above about the relationship between the succubus and the vampire (vampire, of course, in its widest sense).

Lilith is generally portrayed as the mother of the Lilin, not necessarily succubae. She is also often portrayed as a vampire herself.

However I think this is legitimately featured and I regularly look at the succubus on the blog as they are often energy vampires (though not on this case)

Anonymous said...

"Lilin were hostile night spirits that attack men"<-- "Lilith was Adam's first wife who later became a succubus" Vampire and succubi are all in some way or another related to lilith. even in sumarian, Ardat-Lili, Everything related to that; I can't be bothered fully explaining it. It never drank blood, she drained a guy then threw it all up... Succubi don't HAVE to be incorporeal, they dont HAVE to drain by energy. They are DEMONS, demon's would have IMMENSE power, like lili. Succubus have SCALED feet, in mythology it's said to tell one it would have owl like / scaled feet. She has wings, THIS IS SUCCUBUS, they even said it was inspired by a succubus... Vampires and succubi are considered children of Lilith. Ardat lili, lilitu, hebrew sumarian, biblical ect ect its all connected. Research. Please.

Anonymous said...

Did i mention the people who made the movie said it was heavily inspired by a succubus?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Sorry for the delay I’ve been working away.

I’m very glad that they identified with a succubus – could you reference where they said that though and perhaps reference other sources in your argument as it isn’t research without a source – but it doesn’t stop their portrayal fitting within the vampire umbrella.

And I do research… it’s funny, research enough and you’ll always get sources that tie in with your point of view. For instance:

Theresa Bane’s Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology has a succubus entry at pp130-131 and also mentions succubae a lot through her entries.

Bob Curran’s Encyclopedia of the Undead has a succubus entry pp 20-21

Matthew Bunson’s the Vampire Encyclopedia has a succubus entry p248 and several entries mention succubae

All three sources above include entries on Lilith as she is commonly tied with vampiric myth now (who was, of course, based on Babylonian mythology but is of Hebrew source – succubae being named in Latin) and says about Lilith’s children the lilim: “When lilim attack adults, they have SUCCUBUS- like tendencies.” (p94) So not succubae according to that source