This is the main story, the one that ties the anthology together. The idea is that a group of thugs are hired to go to an old man's house and steal a VHS tape. But when they get there, they find that not only is the old man dead, but there are tons of tapes. So while part of the group looks around the house for all the tapes, one of the guys stays behind to watch a few of the tapes the old man was watching when he died.
Nothing is really explained in this story. What tape were they sent to find? By who? Why did the old man have all these insane tapes? And how did he even get them? What's going on? There's basically no real story here except for filler in between the tapes. There's an interesting ending to it, which I won't spoil, but--you guessed it--not explained and out of nowhere. All of the guys in this aren't developed, either. And they're all horny douchebags, so you wouldn't like them even if you knew anything about them. To me, this was nothing but a plot device, and they could have done it much better.
A group of horny, douchebag assholes put a hidden webcam in one of the guy's glasses so that he can basically record him having sex or whatever other kind of debauchery they're planning. They go to a club/bar and pick up a couple girls and bring them back to their motel room. One of the girls is Lily, who is a bit... strange. And all she keeps saying is that she likes the guy in the glasses.
Yet again, this story is full of undeveloped characters who you can't root for because they're all so incredibly unlikeable. You can pretty much figure out what's gonna happen and/or who is gonna turn out to be a "bad guy" in this story pretty quickly. And I'll be honest... I had no idea what I was watching happen here until I read the description on Wikipedia. So, yeah, it wasn't very clear. This was an annoyingly bad story... so it's no wonder they put it first to get it out of the way. And unfortunately, this takes the movie up through the first 30-40 minutes.
This is the Ti West segment, so at least you know there's some talent going into it. This follows a couple named Sam and Stephanie as they're going on their (wait for it...) second honeymoon. They decide to go out west and do stuff like visit a fake old west town and visit what I'm assuming is the Grand Canyon. However, weird things begin to happen when a girl visits their motel and, even unbeknownst to the couple, hasn't exactly gone away.
Ti West definitely has a formula to his movies. They're usually really slow with basically nothing scary happening... and then a crazy, almost out-of-nowhere ending that is pretty cool. And I'd say... that's still kinda the case here. There's maybe one creepy moment about halfway in, but otherwise it's just a very slow, character-building story. And this is pretty much the only story in the entire film that attempts to have any kind of character development. I will say I didn't see the ending coming, and I liked it... even if by the end I wanted it to continue going. It's like... just when it started getting interesting, it stops. And that's my only real complaint here. It's not scary at all, but the ending is pretty good.
Tuesday the 17th
You can imagine what this one is about, I'm sure. A bunch of friends are going to one of the girl's hometowns to visit this lake that she always camped at when she was younger. Of course, 2 of the guys are douchebags, one is a dorky guy, one of the girls is annoying, and the other girl is freaky/psychotic. It turns out there had been some crazy murders in these woods/lake area a few years back... and you can figure out what happens next.
Yeah, this is totally a Friday the 13th rip-off... but with a twist. I like the idea behind the killer in this movie. It was a really fun idea. But everything about this segment is so unbelievably underdeveloped and cliche that it's just not fun. The characters are unlikeable and undeveloped (are you seeing a pattern here?), and the twist is so blatantly obvious they might as well have had a flashing neon sign pointing down and stating "Do Not Trust." This segment almost feels like it's over before it begins. Imagine having one of the Jason movies compacted into 10 minutes. That's what this feels like. Again, good concept for the killer, but so unbelievably undeveloped that I couldn't get into it.
The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger
Now here's an interesting one. Emily is video chatting with her boyfriend, James, who is apparently out of state getting his doctorate. She pretty quickly begins feeling that her new apartment is haunted. And then she gets a strange bump under her arm. She tries to investigate these mysteries, and that's when things get interesting.
The Skype-esque format of this was really fun and unique... but it begs the questions "how did it get onto a VHS tape?" And James declares at least 2-3 times that he wasn't recording certain sessions. I mean, he could have been lying I suppose, but even if he were... the "how did it get on VHS" question still remains. Besides that, this is a story that starts quickly and just goes right into the freaky stuff. And the twist to this one is pretty cool. The characters here aren't exactly undeveloped like a lot of the others, but you weren't exactly connected to them. In fact, Emily comes off as kind of an idiot most of the time. Still, despite its flaws, this is definitely one of the stronger stories of the film, and I really liked its overall concept.
The film story of the film. Of course it has to take place on Halloween. Four friends who (*gasp*) are not douchebags or assholes or (at least here) horny are invited to a Halloween party. One of them dresses up like a Nanny Cam, which gives us the video tape perspective in this story. They go to a house where they think the party is, but it seems deserted. And kinda haunted. They travel through the house thinking it's just a big, funhouse game kinda thing... not realizing they're stumbling into something much worse.
I liked this story, too, despite the fact the guys are a bit dim. Still, this is the first story where not only do none of the males prohibit any moments of douchebaggery, but they're even all decent human beings. Even if you knew nothing about these guys--and you don't--you still like them and hope they all make it out OK. I also liked the idea of them thinking they're in a haunted funhouse and stumbling into something they didn't expect. If there are any downsides to this one, it's that the "twist" is again a bit unclear. I actually thought one thing when it turned out--according to Wikipedia--to be something totally different. And I like the version I read much better than what I thought it was. It's much more original. It's just unfortunate that it's not clear in the story. Still, a solid effort and a decent way to end the movie.
The moral I kind of took from this film was that almost all guys are horny douchebags and almost all girls are psychotic in one way or another. That just seemed to be the common thread throughout most of the stories (not all of them, mind you. But most). The film suffers from being 2 hours of underdeveloped stories, characters, and concepts. With the exception of maybe one or two, almost none of these segments feel like they're complete. It's like they're lacking entire chunks of important or interesting story, whether it comes prior to or following the events of said segments. I don't necessarily always need things explained to me, but a lot of these situations felt like they needed to be fleshed out a bit. I think they could have even cut out Amateur Night completely and used that time to flesh out the other stories. Not to mention very few of the characters in any of the stories were likable, so it was hard to get behind a lot of them or care about anything that was going on. In the end, the film is alright. Some of its stories are worth watching. If anything, the whole of it kept a nice, creepy atmosphere. But narrative-wise, the film is just kind of... OK.
Stop Saying OK! OK.