When V/H/S/ premiered back in 2012 it started a new wave of found footage. It was remarkably affective but the sequels didn’t bode as well. That is until V/H/S/99.
V/H/S/99 gets back to basics with some interesting stories that while still a mixed bag, are definitely a step in the right direction and better than what we have gotten lately.
The latest in the long running series begins with SHREDDING. This is straight nostalgia porn aimed at capturing the Stranger Things crowd. It fails. Though it has some good ideas, it’s too murky and doesn’t have enough time to play out its idea. The idea of a group of dumb kids visiting the site of a concert disaster only to fall victim to the ghosts of their fallen heroes is a good one, but needs time to play out and the “found footage” aesthetic does little to help. Director Maggie Levin hails from Blumhouse, who has fallen from grace in recent years and her inexperience unfortunately drags the opening segment down. That being said, I’ve seen worse so there’s hope. I do like that the band in question, BITCH CAT is a thinly veiled homage to KITTIE. It’s a fun idea but needs room to breath.
That being said, the second story is much better. SUICIDE BID has a cool early 90’s straight to video vibe. Ever evil sorority sisters torture a pledge. The hopeful sister, Lily (Ally Ioannides), is buried alive and has to last as long as she can. She agreed to this as a suicide bid. She applied to no other sororities, so it’s do or die with this one. Things go wrong from there and the fact that it has gone wrong before comes into play. Directed by Johannes Roberts, who directed THE STRANGERS PREY AT NIGHT does a solid job here with familiar but reliable material. Enough said. It’s good stuff.
OZZY’S DUNGEON is a Super Sloppy Double Dare gone wrong! Donna (Amelia Ann) is a contestant on a biased (they all are) Nickelodeon style kids obstacle course show called Ozzy’s Dungeon, is permanently handicapped during an episode she should have won (if the show would let her). Well, her family takes revenge in a twisted way and the episode never lets up. Probably the most disturbing aspect is that we find ourselves laughing at Donna in the opening half of the story along with the “audience” It’s funny because it is familiar and if we are honest with ourselves (depending on our age) so are the feelings of cruel superiority we feel at watching Donna get the shit end of the stick. Ozzy’s Dungeon works on a pure twisted horror level but also makes us think “were we really as good natured kids as we think we were?”
Teen sex comedies were a staple of the 80s and 90s and THE GAWKERS zeros in on that tried and true formula. A group of teen boys take notice of a hot new neighbor that moves in next door. They of course decide to sneak a webcam in to spy on her. What they see is not what they expected and what happens after is 10 times worse! Not a lot of meat on this bone (no pun intended) but entertaining non the less. This is one that could make a fun feature length film if fleshed out properly.
The final segment is To Hell and Back and is a tour de force! Two friends Nate (Archelaus Crisanto) and Troy (Joseph Winter) head over to a neighbors place for a job. Record their occult ritual on the eve of Y2K. Yes it sounds dumb but I would have done the same damned thing at that age. The goal is to summon a demon from hell to possess a young woman’s body. Well not only does the ritual produce results, it opens a portal and sucks them into hell. This episode is filled with chaos and madness and is so much fun!
V/H/S/99 is good fun. Uneven, but an over all enjoyable entry. There is more good than bad here and that is more than you can expect with most!
The film is available this Tuesday the 23rd!