V/H/S/99 is one of the better entries of the V/H/S franchise.
Published on May 18, 2023
Rating 4 /5
The V/H/S horror anthology has been a mixed bag of a film series. It’s loose enough with its premise of cursed VHS tapes that so much can be done with the material. Sometimes it results in surreal nightmares, as with V/H/S 2, and sometimes it loses the plot, as with V/H/S Viral. V/H/S 99 gets the formula right by assembling filmmakers who get the concept and know how to evoke some great terror and gore out of the retro setting.
As the title implies, this anthology centers around tapes from 1999, becoming a bit of a theme for the franchise, with the previous film taking place in 1984. All the ingredients from this era are peppered into the many taped stories. Amateur rock bands, Jackass-style stunts, Nickelodeon game shows, webcams, and Y2K hysteria are all present. All of it is woven brilliantly to throw supernatural elements into every story.
Shredding, directed by Maggie Levin, uses the dicing up of footage and the weird effects of the video when interacting with the supernatural. An amateur band trying to strike it big plans to record themselves playing in a haunted location. What they don’t count on is that their Bloody Mary-esque ritual of reenacting the performances of the dead unearths terrifying darkness. Freaky monsters and brutal gore follow as a band that brands itself as hardcore didn’t count on having their limbs torn off that night.
Suicide Bid, directed by Johannes Roberts, is one of the simpler segments. It’s a hazing ritual where a sorority hazes by locking their aspiring new members in a coffin for the night. The inside of the coffin is filmed where the terrifying thing the sorority speculates is that the trapped girl will be freaked out by the box of spiders they let loose. What they don’t count on is the dead creeping their way into the box with a spooky finale. It’s shocking for anybody with a fear of small spaces and being buried alive.
Ozzy's Dungeon, directed by Flying Lotus, can be thought of as one of the more absurd segments. This one gets a bit meta for the time skip involved. The film's first half is reserved for a kid’s game show with physical courses. Basing the segment on the troubled history of Nickelodeon filming these shows, one episode features a girl being injured during one of the challenges with lots of blood on set. Skip ahead a few years; that family is now seeking revenge on the host who did nothing. This leads to a twisty story of deadly games, acid, and a horrific force that grants wishes.
The Gawkers, directed by Tyler MacIntyre, takes a datedly scummy invasion of privacy concocted by teenage boys and transforms it into a monster movie. A group of joking teens try to get a glimpse of the girl next door. They send in someone to help her set up a computer and then hack her webcam to watch her change. An unorthodox slasher series of killings with a monster not generally seen in suburban horror, especially in the 1990s.
To Hell and Back, directed by Vanessa & Joseph Winter, has a surprising buddy dynamic amid a somewhat absurd premise. Two guys get caught up in a demon ritual where they are accidentally sent to hell. Filming the entire experience, they find an ally in the form of a cackling and cunning woman who will guide them back to the realm of mortals. It’s gory, funny, and a great way to cap off the anthology.
V/H/S/99 is one of the better entries of the V/H/S franchise. It runs so well with the premise, and nearly every filmmaker hits their entry out of the park with great experimentation. And they didn’t even have to make some Y2K hysteria entry! As a film anthology packed with dark magic, devils, zombies, and the greatest satire of Double Dare, this one may be vying for the top spot as the best V/H/S movie.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.