MOVIE REVIEW: Rewind This!

Movie: Rewind This!
Director: Josh Johnson
Studio: Imperial PolyFarm Productions

Take a second and think about where your VHS tapes from your childhood are. On a shelf? In a box? You can’t remember because it’s been so long? None of these answers would be surprising; since the genesis of the VHS tape in the 1970s, the format to distribute film and other videos has changed twice. Rewind This! tells the story of the VHS cassette, and its importance in film history. But Blu-Ray discs look so much better than VHS tapes, can store more information, and come chock-filled with special features. Why should we care to learn more about the VHS tape for a full-length film? Simple: VHS tapes have such a rich history of independent filmmaking that Rewind This! explores in a such powerfully passionate and fun way.

The key element that Rewind This! taps into from the very start of the film is nostalgia. Filmmaker Josh Johnson reminds you why the experience of watching a VHS with your friends was such an integral part of your childhood. From rewinding the movie to watch a particularly gory, funny, or seductive part of the film to the joy of going to the video store to find a new title with your friends, Rewind This! is not only just a history lesson in the genesis of the VHS tape and why it was important, but it’s also a love letter. We get to see amazing collections of video tapes from fans of the medium, and we get to truly find out what makes this video format fun to watch. Filmmakers who are in love with the format also weigh in, talking how the creation of the VHS tape brought their art form to a new level, and allowed unparalleled access to a notoriously closed off film industry. As someone who loves film to an extreme amount, I was drooling over all of the art, collections, and rich background that Rewind This! delved into. Content wise, this film is very rich, but never beats a dead horse.

From a filmmaking perspective, Rewind This! is a great documentary. The editing of the film is wonderful, and keeps what could be a relatively boring topic and makes it very dynamic and fun to watch. The interviews are very clean and aesthetically pleasing to look at, but the best part of this documentary is the slew of VHS b-roll that was transferred in for the film. We get to see all of the hilarity trashy b-cinema has to offer, a treat that is really only available on VHS these days. You can see the passion for the format coming out in the filmmaking, and it’s that passion that really propels this documentary into a really fresh and rewarding direction.

Rewind This! inspired me to start collecting more films on a physical format. The next day I ran to my local video store that was having a sale and bought seven DVD’s (no VHS tapes sadly were present). This is a film for lovers of the medium, and it may be boring to some who may not be as fiendish about the film, but that’s okay. In an age where everything is at our fingertips via torrenting and streaming services such as Netflix, it becomes easy to disregard supporting a director you like by purchasing their film. I’m just as guilty as the next guy; there is something to be said for convenience. While Rewind This! is primarily about the VHS tape, I find that the underlying theme of the film is the loss our culture has suffered. The loss of going to the video store and talking and finding something new, not just watching what you are being fed by services that are owned by the most powerful companies. We are losing the communal aspect of going to a store with a friend, talking with a clerk, and finding something you wouldn’t have normally picked out. Rewind This! reminds you to take a step back, find something new, and enjoy the rich bounty of independent cinema that we aren’t sold by the major film studios.

Grade: A-

Written By: Tyler Osborne

Tyler Osborne
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