In V/H/S/99 the stories are erratic, uneven, and unsurprising for the most part, although there are a few little wacky story developments that had me raising my eyebrows for a few moments.
An anthology of scary stories in the V/H/S franchise.
As the analogue era segued into the digital format, the eponymous VHS tape – the video home system device in which virtually everyone in the civilized world utilized for recording purposes for close to two full decades – became an outdated format around the new millennium. I, myself, got my first DVD player in June of 1998, and I was off to the races, leaving in the dust (but never completely) the reels of recordable tape I so held dear and in high regard throughout my formative years. The horror anthology franchise V/H/S is now in its fourth iteration, and by now it’s pressing into desperate and clingy territory by prolonging its novelty on fans of the horror genre, and the anthology subgenre specifically. We’re here at the proverbial end of the line, and I suppose the collective behind this series can now get into the D/V/D horror anthology next.
In V/H/S/99 the stories are erratic, uneven, and unsurprising for the most part, although there are a few little wacky story developments that had me raising my eyebrows for a few moments. The first segment is “Shredding,” about a group of teens who make their own “Real World”-style documentary, but their slacker / skater antics push them into an urban legend surrounding an all-girl rock band that suddenly disappeared after going underground to shoot a music video. The crew ends up filming their trek to the same place, leading to a “play or die” scenario where the molted corpses of the all-girl band return to wreak havoc on the goofballs who thought they could tempt fate. The second segment is “Suicide Bid,” about a new pledge who desperately wants to join the coolest sorority, but their initiation of forcing the girl to lie in a coffin in a cemetery in an open grave takes a scary turn when the previous girl who did the same and died or disappeared returns to get some vengeance on the mean girls who haven’t learned their lesson. This segment (directed by Johannes Roberts) feels very much like a Tales From the Crypt episode, but for some reason it never clicks the way it should. The third segment was the most disturbing: “Ozzy’s Dungeon,” about a weird public access kid’s show where kid contestants compete in a Nickelodeon-style obstacle course for the granting of one wish. One girl has a horrible accident and destroys her leg forever on the course, and a year later her parents kidnap the emcee and torture him in their dungeon, forcing him to compete in their disgusting recreation of the same course, leading to his begging and pleading that he has the ability to grant their one wish, which leads him and the sadistic family to his dungeon where he’s been keeping a secret … This is the episode that might stick with me the longest, even though it didn’t really work the way it should have. This one was directed by Flying Lotus. The next segment was “The Gawkers,” a variation on that gimmick in the first American Pie where the nerds set up a webcam on a pretty girl’s computer, the new girl on the block they all lust after. The gag backfires on them big time, leading to a mad dash for survival as the girl has a secret and comes to claim her vengeance. This one should have been a slam dunk, but it also doesn’t have a satisfying payoff, and some of the CGI they used here is pretty spotty. The final segment got the only laugh to be had from me, and that’s the wacky “To Hell and Back,” which features a Satanic ritual gone hilariously wrong. Instead of conjuring a demon, two guys end up in hell, a bonkers place where ravenous demons, cultists, and creatures see the befuddled newcomers as choice meat. The segment (and the film) ends on a weird, unsatisfying note.
RLJE’s new steelbook Blu-ray / DVD combo comes with over three hours of bonus content that fans may appreciate. It’s available to own this week.