Have you ever had the feeling that you weren’t supposed to be watching something? Maybe you were young and you waited till your parents were asleep to pop a horror film into the VCR. Or maybe you were watching horrific videos deep on the internet that you should not have been. Either way, you know that feeling of shivers running up your spine as you quietly peak over your shoulder out of the fear that something would get you or that you would be caught. V/H/S 94 captures that feeling as you watch a series of stories too cursed for human consumption. This is exactly what I wanted from the film and it hit the mark perfectly.
I don’t want to tread too far from the review but V/H/S: Viral really missed the mark and by a large margin. I thought that would be the end but when I saw that 94 was coming, my excitement had to be tapered. I couldn’t set myself up to have my heart broken again, NOT AGAIN. But my heart is in one piece even if I got covered in blood watching this movie. The first two films are what convinced me there was still so much potential left in the found footage genre as a whole. Each of the anthologies stories has a different writer and director that gives each segment it’s own unique feel. The frame story “Holy Hell” written and directed by Jennifer Reeder, follows a SWAT team raiding what they think is a drug lab but what they find is so much worse. What they find is a cult like group who holds thousands of V/H/S tapes of videos that could be compared to snuff films but they all have some weird supernatural elements in them. From there we get four stories in between the frame story elements.
The first of the stories is “Storm Drain”, written and directed by Chloe Okuno, follows a news reporter and cameraman investigating a rat man that has been seen in the sewers. This is a fantastic start for the anthology as it captures that grungy vibe with plenty of tearing in the video itself. Those elements of making it look like a real V/H/S just adds to that low budget feeling that stays through the film. Without spoiling too much, this story has some very cool practical monster work that had me rewinding to get a better look. As the main character is a news reporter, we get some cheesy local news bits that are very different from the start to the finish.
The second tale “The Empty Wake” by Simon Barrett, is a story about a young woman who is working at a funeral home where she has to be there for a wake that has overnight hours. Things get weird when only one person shows up. This story has some cameras set up around the room that really feed into the fear as things start to get weird. It’s a fantastic performance when the entire scene really focuses on one person to build the tension.
The third and best of the stories “The Subject”, written and directed by Timo Tjahjanto, is a mad scientist story. I don’t want to go into too much detail about this one because the camera use in it is fantastic. What really stands out in this one is the POV camerawork that is used to make you invest your hope in a young girl who has been experimented on by a mad scientist. She goes from fearful to an absolute badass by the end of the story. At some points, it felt like I was watching someone play a FPS game so much that I wanted to pick up a controller to help her. She even has a health bar! There are so many elements at play in this one that made it stand above the rest.
The fourth story “Terror”, written and directed by Ryan Prows, was the weakest of the film. It follows a group of satirical white supremacists as they plan to use a monster to attack a government building. This was the dud for me as there really wasn’t much to capture me as a viewer. It felt like I was watching a very weird episode of The Trailer Park Boys at times. I cannot explain that feeling any further.
Even with the final story of the batch being less than stellar, V/H/S 94 brought the series back to it’s former glory for me. If you enjoy found footage horror, I highly recommend you check this one out. It’s out now, streaming on Shudder!