Fantasia Review: Straight to VHS

The VHS in question

Until the widespread adoption of VHS (and the less than universal take-up of Betamax) opportunities for would-be filmmakers were very limited. With the advent of the medium, it opened up a whole new world of possibilism for budding directors. Today, we have access to huge catalogues of films thanks to numerous available streaming services, but back in the day video stores became treasure troves for the unusual and the odd.

Whilst the physical media versus streaming debate rattles on inexorably, there’s no doubting that owning something tangible, with a cover and insets etc, can inspire something akin to devotion. Owning some of the more rare and obscure films became an obsession for many, but Emilio Silva Torres went one step further. Not content with merely possessing Act of Violence in a Young Journalist, he set out to track down the mysterious director. Straight to VHS is the outcome.

Straight to VHS melds fact and fiction to create an unusual and engrossing odyssey. The enigmatic and mercurial Uruguayan director Manuel Lamas is a slippery fish to track down. As Torres journeys deeper into the heart of darkness things begin to get distinctly weird. Half investigational documentary, half heartfelt tribute, Straight to VHS is an eerily absorbing oddity which pays homage to a bygone era.

Straight to VHS screens at Fantasia International Film Festival.  

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