Thursday, October 7, 2021

V/H/S/94 Review: A Stylish Throwback of Short Films

Release date: October 6, 2021 Running time: 100 minutes Directed by Chloe Okuno, Simon Barrett, Timo Tjahjanto, Ryan Prows & Jennifer Reeder

V/H/S/94 is the fourth installment in the hit horror anthology franchise and marks the return of the infamous found footage anthology with segments from franchise alumni Simon Barrett (Séance) and Timo Tjahjanto (May the Devil Take You Too) in addition to acclaimed directors Jennifer Reeder (Knives & Skin), Ryan Prows (Lowlife) and Chloe Okuno (Slut). In V/H/S/94, after the discovery of a mysterious VHS tape, a brutish police swat team launch a high intensity raid on a remote warehouse, only to discover a sinister cult compound whose collection of pre-recorded material uncovers a nightmarish conspiracy.

V/H/S/94 has a lot of really great components. I loved the VHS style film grain and the found footage aspect of the film. And the compilation of different films does allow for some interesting movies from different voices to shine through. I enjoyed seeing all the fresh faces in the credits, and seeing some talent behind some of my favorite recent movies was a blast. Even if you don't like all the footage, there will definitely be something in there that you enjoy. And the film screams 90s, with several news segments and even some funny advertisements interspersed through the found footage parts. It is entertaining for sure and if you have fond memories of the time, you will have a blast.

But although this film has some really great found footage aspects, some of the time I couldn't tell if the camp was intentional or not. For example, there is a monster part way through that 100% looks like a bad animatronic from the time. So I understood that. But there are also "bodies" that are shown that are pretty clearly mannequins. I wasn't sure if those were supposed to look like that or if that was just a result of the budget. And the effects are likewise hit or miss. Some of the practical effects are awesome and gory, just what you would expect from a throwback film. But then there are instances of CG added effects, most notably in some blood that looks added on even through the VHS effect. But these are mostly minor, the effects themselves are very over the top and when they hit, they hit beautifully.

However, although V/H/S/94 does have some sort of story that is tied to it, it never quite feels connected enough. It feels like a series of shorts, which it is, but the overarching story doesn't do much to really tie it all together. And that also leaves the film feeling a little bit long. I almost would have liked a shorter story overall to focus on the short films.

V/H/S/94 is a stylish throwback to a crazier horror time, with over the top effects, a wonderful 90s style, VHS effects, and enough variety that you're bound to find something that you love.

Rent it.

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V/H/S/94 is available to stream on Shudder starting October 6, 2021. 

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