America’s scariest home videos

The problem with portmanteau films such as New York Stories (Coppola and co) and Four Rooms (Tarantino et al) is that they’re always baggy with bravado, because no one wants to waste their best work on a joint venture, or admit they’re coasting by allowing someone else to make judicious cuts.

The genius of this horror taster, which features six up-and-coming filmmakers breathing new life into the found-footage genre, is that everyone’s eager to prove themselves, so they all bring their A-game. 

Shot on actual VHS, and correspondingly hard to watch, Adam Wingard’s wraparound tale is surprisingly weak (given the maturity of his earlier work A Horrible Way To Die), a repetitive tale of burglars searching through a pile of cassettes in a spooky house.

First out of the pile – and best of the bunch – is David Bruckner’s Amateur Night.

A woozy tale of fratboy porn star wannabes on the pull, it’s as scary for what it says about internet age sexual politics as its excellent, unsettling SFX.

Ti West’s Second Honeymoon suffers by comparison, a sagging stalker tale in the wrong place for a slow-burner.

The strike rate soars in the second half.

Glenn McQuaid’s Tuesday The 17th is a witty Friday The 13th riff with an imaginatively rendered digi-villain – ironic given all the analogue.

Best scare award goes to Joe Swanberg’s nifty The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger, a series of anxious late-night Skype calls between an absent medical student and his anguished girlfriend.

Last but far from least is 10/31/98, written, directed by and starring a collective called Radio Silence, a dazzling, FX-filled haunted-house jaunt that’s all punchline and no set-up.

That’s actually a good thing in this format, where speed and scares trump narrative subtlety, and more such patterns emerge when you watch these disparate stories back-to-back.

There’s a whole university paper to be written on the troubling sexual invasiveness of young men with video cameras, for example, and it would be nice to have some female directors redress the balance.

Besides bolstering viewers’ must-watch lists (start with Bruckner’s The Signal and West’s The House Of The Devil), it’s a wholly appropriate way to hail the new masters of horror.


Screechy, surprising and, in places, proper scary, this glitchy genre mixtape puts invention ahead of attention span, representing a 4/6 victory for killer over filler.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • lukeworm100

      Dec 14th 2012, 13:32

      Thank god it got such a high rating. I am VERY excited to see this film. It's so damn cool that there are copies of it on VHS and that it was all shot on VHS. A big nostalgia kick.

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    • Ichi1

      Dec 14th 2012, 15:13

      I would be annoyed with you for using the photo you use, because its a huge spoiler and totally takes away one of the movies great scares and shocks. But heck, the movie company that released this film spammed my Facebook page with the same thing for 2 months. So if they don't have the respect for the audience to not ruin it, why should you?

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    • barryc

      Dec 14th 2012, 15:57


      Are you havin a laugh Total film? This movie is absolutely utter s**t. Seriously, it was the surprise film at a horror festival screening I was at and people either kept laughing out loud at how awful it was, (the acting especially) or they just got up and left half way through.(Literally half the audience, trust me, not because they were scared either) Complete rubbish, how on earth a legitimate film site could give this a 4 star rating is beyond me. Matt Glasby, how do you have a job? I'm a fan of found footage horror too, but anyone I've spoke to who's seen it agree's , this is probably one of the worst films of all time.( and not just from that genre). 4 stars??? WTF, hang your head in shame

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    • Andy85

      Dec 14th 2012, 19:13

      @barryc: Dude. it's an opinion, build a bridge and get over it. I hate it when people question the occupational status of a reviewer just because they don't agree with the verdict. Fair enough, you have your own opinion of the film and you didn't like it and you are more than entitled to that opinion but please don't judge the credibility of the reviewer just because you don't like what he says as it is borderline slanderous.

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    • bugmenot

      Dec 21st 2012, 7:57

      I downloaded this movie from moviesfirecom Its awesome movie!

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    • caldist

      Jan 4th 2013, 10:13


      'WANT $100,000' Goto to win huge prizes :

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    • gamingbeaver

      Jan 11th 2013, 23:56

      I understand a person's opinion is just a person's opinion, but I have to stress that this was not a good film. This was a collection of student films bunched together meaning there is no plot arching the films together. There is also no payoff. It ends abruptly just like The Devil Inside.. It wasn't scary in the slightest.

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    • reggiehammond1

      Jan 13th 2013, 16:29

      I would like to see this film but I worry about being dissapointed like with the paranormal activity films made out to be proper scary but atually weren't.

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    • lisaheden

      Jan 21st 2013, 15:08

      how it happened..cant believe....just check

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    • SussexUK

      Sep 19th 2013, 16:51


      Again Total Film going over the top. It doesn't live up to the hype, very amateurish... okay i expect it to be low budget but this was way low. First chapter wasn't bad but after that rest was pretty dreadful. Motel chapter was a complete waste of time. Its not scary at all and not even funny. Saw it on DVD with 5 friends.. all thought it was pretty rubbish. Nice try but no cigar.

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