Take a trip back to 1999. That’s really what the premise of V/H/S/99 is. That premise captures the same sense of dread, wonder, fear, and excitement of the moment. It also effortlessly captures the vibes of late ’90s MTV, culture, and technology. With some of the most terrifying sections the series has ever seen, there are a few flaws with the new anthology movie on Shudder. Those issues come up when the film gets effects heavy, but outside of that, this is an anthology that has something for everyone. The sections of V/H/S/99 come from Maggie Levin, Johannes Roberts, Flying Lotus, Tyler MacIntyre, and Vanessa and Joseph Winter.
Through the film you get five segments: “Shredding”, “Suicide Bid”, “Ozzy’s Dungeon”, “The Gawkers”, and “To Hell And Back”. Each of these segments has varying degrees of scares and humor. What they really give is a sense of creativity that can only come from an anthology film like this. Without the constraints of creating a full story, each of these segments gets to breathe but doesn’t need to pad out the story.
Starting off with “Shredding”, we get a video that’s taken directly from MTV in the style of Jackass, Baker Bootleg, and others. You have a group of teens making skate, stunt, and comedy sketches that end up finding themselves in the same place a band died in the past. The teens are excellently acted with Keanush Tafreshi playing the butt of his friend’s jokes perfectly. What ends up making “Shredding” the weakest segment of them all are the cuts and how dark the picture is. A large portion of the kills once the story twists are almost 100% obscured by darkness. It loses a bit of the luster that would normally be way more terrifying. In addition, the cuts are distracting with transitions of garbled static. That being said, “Shredding” is still a worthy watch in this anthology.
The second story “Suicide Bid” is one of the tensest and most unnerving sections in the V/H/S series. There are no frills, the whole thing is basically set in one location, a graveyard. A pledge in college to a sorority is making her one last “suicide bid” to get in. This is all about a hazing prank gone wrong, and for those that are claustrophobic, you might want to skip it. Even past the section with someone trapped in a coffin, it somehow gets worse, twice over. Ally Ioannides takes a role that some other actresses would play over the top and campy and gives it some humanity. Her performance makes this even more terrifying because she captures what any of us would do in the situation.
Flying Lotus gives us what I would consider the quintessential V/H/S entry with “Ozzy’s Dungeon”. If you’ve ever seen Legends Of The Hidden Temple this is what happens when that show goes wrong, horribly wrong. Steven Ogg as the Host is the right amount of sleaze and yet still approachable here. Once you get to the “twist” of the episode, you still have another “twist” waiting for you at the end. It’s truly inventive and does the best job of getting the late ’90s vibes right, with some unease and tension just under the surface. “Ozzy’s Dungeon” is dirty, grimy, and one of the best segments they’ve ever made.
“The Gawkers” takes the scene from American Pie where they’re watching Shannon Elizabeth over the webcam and turn it on its head. The group of stunningly horny teenagers here all capture exactly what teenage boys would do in the situation. Of all the “found footage” stuff in the film, this utilizes the genre tropes the most. The monster here looks great and how she dispatches her victims is legendary.
The fifth and final segment of V/H/S/99 is the one that we saw the most of from the marketing and trailer. “To Hell And Back” is basically what I would imagine a V/H/S haunted house at Halloween Horror Nights would look like. The backgrounds are detailed but there’s something off about them with plenty of black space, just like the ones at a haunted house. It caps off the film heading into the new millennium as the time lock for the segment. Our two protagonists have to get back to a party after going to Hell. The twist here isn’t as good as the other segments, but this one was the most fun to watch. Archelaus Crisanto‘s Nate and Joseph Winter’s Troy are both amazing in this. They’re the funniest part of the whole film.
Party Like Its 1999
Outside of some visual quirks with certain scenes being too dark, V/H/S/99 is among the best in the series and combined with the excellence of V/H/S/94, they’ve found a formula for major success in this anthology series. It captures the nostalgia of the era, but weaponizes that nostalgia. The frights on display are among the best, and all five segments are utterly fantastic. For fans of the series, it might be disappointing to not have the overall “frame” story, but V/H/S/99 does more than enough with the five stories here. This horror show is one that’s well worth your watch on Shudder.
Stream V/H/S/99 on Shudder starting on October 20th.
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