Under the radar director Jack Henry Robbins released the film VHYes (2019) as a comedic homage to 80’s television and home video. His other works include a hardcore porn parody about climate change aptly titled, Hot Winter (2017) and Painting with Joan (2017.) Both works make a cameo in VHYes.
VHYes centers around Ralph, a young boy in the 80’s who has received a camcorder for Christmas and has proceeded to record his life and TV shows over his parents’ wedding tape. Through both deadpan and dark humor in a variety of television show parodies, the film provides social commentary on the advent of new technology through an old medium. As the film progresses, the innocent act of recording a home video transitions into a mildly disturbing account of television psychosis.
Shot entirely on VHS and Betamax, grainy and unclear video within this film may bother those used to the clear images afforded by the technology of our current generation. The qualities of VHS tapes such as tracking lines and discoloration may also yield nostalgia over the way shows used to be or the inherent hassle of using said tapes. In whichever case, Jack Henry Robbins tactfully uses these qualities in VHYes. The framing narrative of Ralph contains the classic VHS time stamp, an effective way to establish a reality against the outlandish television vignettes. The blur on the vignettes give off a dream-like trait that heighten the movie’s absurd moments and eerie scenes. Through the video quality, uncertainty and unease ensues. This alone showcases the usefulness of this unconventional method of filming in modern times.
The consistent jump cuts could be reasoned as a result of all the video meant to be on a single tape; however, the effect distracts in this non-sequitur movie. It is difficult to process the events and connections through one viewing and the film almost requires multiple views to be fully understood. At one glance, the slew of direct messages about social issues and cheesy commercials culminate as a wacky and meaningless montage.
Due to the experimental nature of this film, I tried to give it slack, but the attempts at humor with bad porno acting and overzealous TV personalities left me in confusion. The bizarre situations depicted would have been hilarious had they been executed with better delivery.
VHYes is not for the average moviegoer; it’s a weird film that will satisfy a craving for 80’s nostalgia while simultaneously serving bad comedy.
Synopsis: This bizarre retro comedy, shot entirely on VHS and Beta, follows 12-year-old Ralph as he accidentally records home videos and his favorite late night shows over his parents’ wedding tape.
Directors: Jack Henry Robbins
Writers: Nate Gold, Nunzio Randazzo, Jack Henry Robbins
Stars: Kerri Kenney, Thomas Lennon, Mark Proksch, Courtney Pauroso, Charlyne Yi, John Gemberling, Mason McNulty, Rahm Braslaw
Rated: Not Rated
Run time: 1 Hour, 12 Minutes