The V/H/S franchise has now been around for ten years, and has spawned four sequels, including today’s film in question, V/H/S 99. Much like Carpenter’s original vision for the Halloween franchise, this series always includes the VHS format, but everything else is up for interpretation. Shudder’s V/H/S 94 last year was a hit, and fans of the franchise mostly felt that it accomplished the goal of bringing the series back to its roots. Weird, gory, and most importantly, fun, are the name of the game when it comes to films, with nice throwbacks to splatter flicks of the last sprinkled throughout.
Following in those footsteps is V/H/S 99, the latest kick-ass entry in the collective. Focusing on the “final punk rock era of analog”, the film has five segments:
Shredding, a spooky tale about a ragtag bunch going to play a gig at a venue that was host to a tragedy.
Suicide Bid, which follows a sorority as a hazing prank turns sour.
Ozzy’s Dungeon shows what happens when a family struck by a catastrophic injury on a game show decides to recreate it.
Gawkers starts with a bunch of teenagers spying on their neighbor, which goes sour when they decide to install spyware on her new Macintosh.
To Hell And Back tackles the Y2K hysterics through the lens of a group of people trying to summon a demon.
To say that the filmmakers hit it out of the park would be an understatement. If a fun, creepy atmosphere is the name of the game, then they deserve the reward. Anthology movies can prove to be a slippery slope of not overwhelming the viewer with material, but also not becoming boring in segments. V/H/S 99 doesn’t let off the gas, but it continues to be easy to follow & entertaining along the way. Very rarely can I say I loved every segment in an anthology film, but this is one of those movies.
The acting is also a large standout here, with great performances, especially from the ones you’re meant to feel sorry for. When Ankur (Keanush Tafreshi) is picked on, his portrayal of awkwardness and fright accentuates the story. As the sorority prank unfolds, you feel like you’re in it with Lily (Ally Ioannides) as she’s flooded with emotions. The can-do nature of Nate (Archelaus Cristano) & his scaredy cat pal Troy (Joseph Winter, who is co-writer & director), add this extremely comedic effect to a story that is about literally going to hell. The list goes on & on of good performances.
The stories are also a perfect blend of old & new. Nothing is reinventing the wheel, but where it succeeds is in adding a unique flair to each piece. The grunge, MTV-era aesthetic of Shredding, the flipping of the 90’s whodunnit slasher vibe on its head with Suicide Bid, and the found footage Paranormal Activity vibe gone comedic in To Hell And Back are the real standouts.
At risk of sounding like a broken record, V/H/S 99 is just purely awesome. If you’re a fan of unique horror and have a knowledge of classic horror tropes, you’ll surely be pleased by the homages & reconstruction of classic story ideas.