v/h/s | v/h/s/99 | anthology | flying lotus | maggie levin | tyler macintyre | johannes roberts | joseph winter | vanessa winter | zoe cooper | chris lee hill | jesse latourette | keanush tafreshi | dashiell derrickson | united states | monster | creature | witch | coven
Director: Flying Lotus, Maggie Levin, Tyler MacIntyre, Johannes Roberts, Joseph Winter and Vanessa Winter
Writer: Zoe Cooper, Flying Lotus, Chris Lee Hill, Maggie Levin, Tyler MacIntyre, Johannes Roberts, Joseph Winter and Vanessa Winter
Starring: Jesse LaTourette, Keanush Tafreshi and Dashiell Derrickson
This is an anthology that I heard about through the podcast groups that I’m in on social media. I’ve seen all the previous installments of this series so when I saw that another one was out, I was in to check out. I decided to watch it as I was struggling to figure out what 2022 film I wanted to watch and this one seemed easy enough. I came into this one blind without necessarily knowing who was behind the different shorts.
Synopsis: witness a hellish vision of 1999, as social isolation, analog technology and disturbing home videos fuse into a nightmare of found footage savagery.
This is a bit different from the previous installments as we aren’t necessarily getting a wraparound that connects everything. We do get an interesting home video of a child playing with toys and narrating for them with different things. This could be like army men setting up an attack on other toys to taking on monsters. I found that change interesting. It isn’t something that I hate either.
Then our first story is ‘Shredding’. For this, we get a group of teens that have formed a band. They also film themselves doing different things. This group goes by RACK, which is an acronym of their names. There is Rachel (Jesse LaTourette), Ankur (Keanush Tafreshi), Chris Carbonara (Dashiell Derrickson) and Kaleb (Jackson Kelly). They decide on the anniversary of a tragedy at the Colony Underground, they want to go down there and practice. A band that went by Bitch Cat died down there. What they do seems to stir up the unrested spirits with nightmarish results.
We then get ‘Suicide Bid’. Lily (Ally Ioannides) decides to only bid one sorority, which they deem as a suicide bid. If she doesn’t get in, then she won’t be joining one. Her roommate points out that this isn’t smart, but Lily is determined. The sorority sisters take advantage of her because of this. They are Annie (Isabelle Hahn), Helen (Breana Raquel), Imogene (Caitlin Serros), Lucy (Brittany Gandy) and Hannah (Logan Riley). There is an urban legend of Guiltine who did a suicide bid. She was buried alive and wasn’t released in time. These sisters prank her by putting her in the same position. It starts to rain and security guards show up, forcing them to flee. Lily makes a terrifying discovery and is faced with a choice.
The next story is ‘Ozzy’s Dungeon’. What is interesting here is that this is a kids’ game show like ‘Legend’s of the Hidden Temple’. No one has ever won though. It is hosted by a character played by Steven Ogg. One of the contestants gets horrifically injured, Donna (Amelia Ann). When the show won’t make it right, her mother Debra (Sonya Eddy), takes matters into her own hands. They also learn the truth behind the show and who Ozzy (Stephanie Ray) truly is.
There is then ‘The Gawkers’. This is a group of teen boys, Dylan (Luke Mullen), Brady (Ethan Pogue), Mark (Cree Kawa) and Kurt (Tyler Lofton). They are your annoying, typical group for that age. This group has a crush on Sandra (Emily Sweet) who is their neighbor and are determined to see her naked. They enlist the aid of Boner (Duncan Anderson), who is the younger brother of one of them. She asks for his help to set up a webcam for her. They get to see what they want and then some when they learn the truth of their neighbor.
The last story is then ‘To Hell and Back’. Nate (Archelaus Crisanto) and Troy (Joseph Winter) are filming a ritual by a coven of witches. They get more than they bargained for when they’re sent to a hellish world. They fight and do what they can to get back before it is too late.
That should be enough of a recap for each of the stories as well as introducing the characters. Now where I want to start is giving a brief overview of the previous movies in this franchise. I thought that the first two were good. I think I lean more toward the second as still being my favorite. Viral was a step back but V/H/S/94 was heading back in the right direction. I think that this is a step back from the last one, so in the bottom section of the series. It is still better than Viral.
With that out of the way, I still like each of the shorts. The common thread here is referencing things in or around 1999. We would have seen the rise of Jackass so the first story having the kids filming themselves doing dumb things makes sense. My friends and I did the same thing around then. Suicide Bid has Lily doing a recording for her bid into the sorority. Ozzy’s Dungeon has an outdated type of show that was struggling. The most though is that we get a couple of Y2K references. I believe there’s one in Shredding and in The Gawkers. I’d even say there is a correlation to the Heaven’s Gate cult in To Hell and Back that I liked. Making it feel like the time it is set is good to me. I appreciate that.
From here I want to go over to how this works as an anthology. I’m taking that the kid in the ‘wraparound’ is recording over things on this VHS tape. I know the struggle there. Much like the other movies in this series, each of the shorts are done and work in their own framework. This doesn’t have much connective tissue. Despite that, I think they all work well together. They have their own stories to tell, but the tone is good between them. They can go gory, which I’ll go into soon with the effects. Each pulled my attention and had me interested to see how it played out.
Since I’ve brought it up, let me go over to the filmmaking. I think that the effects we get are good for the most part. There is CGI, especially in The Gawkers. I’m fine with it though. What works there is the cinematography to hide it. The shorts all look like they were shot on VHS. What helps is that they don’t go overboard with the tracking or making it digitally mess up. That is a problem I have at times with found footage. I do think this way of filming works. It did make me feel like I was there with our characters at times. The soundtrack also works and adds a bit. From what I could tell, the sound is diegetic, coming from the world of the movie which adds realism.
Then the last thing to go into would be with the acting. We get a lot of characters so I’m not going to go through each short. I’d say that everyone seemed to fit their roles. No one necessarily stood out, but no one took me out in believing who they were. The only one that I wanted to bring up would be Ogg. He’s an actor I first discovered thanks to Grand Theft Auto V. He was also on Better Call Saul. I liked seeing him in this as I’m a fan of him.
In conclusion, this is a solid installment into the V/H/S series. Even though this most likely is my second lowest rated, it comes in ahead of Viral. I think the shorts we get here are solid. I don’t mind the wraparound that we get as it is a different take. It works better for me though when it plays back into the stories themselves. The acting though is good. I’d say that the filmmaking is solid for the most part. I did like the cinematography. The practical effects are good and I had no major issues with the CGI or soundtrack. I’d recommend giving this a viewing for sure.
My Rating: 7 out of 10