Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans

V/H/S/99 ***


Directed by Johannes Roberts, Vanessa & Joseph Winter, Maggie Levin, Tyler MacIntyre, Flying Lotus.
Starring Steven Ogg, Joseph Winter, Melanie Stone, Aminah Nieves, Lauren Powers, Luke Mullen, Sonya Eddy.
Horror/Anthology, United States, 90 minutes, cert 18.


Released on Blu-ray from Acorn Media International on 27th March. RRP £19.99


Gorgons, game show hosts, grungy rock bands and a wide assortment of various demons of all shapes and sizes come together for your retro viewing pleasure in the latest entertaining entry in the V/H/S anthology series. Breaking streaming records for Shudder and becoming the platform’s most-viewed premiere in October last year, V/H/S/99 now sees a physical media release from Acorn Media International.


The film is presented as a found footage video tape, complete with VHS grain, with all the stories set in 1999 and thus chocked full of nostalgic references (Pokémon, Blockbuster and Jim Carrey’s “Alrighty then” catchphrase are all namechecked) and most are fairly authentic visual recreations of the media of the time.


There are five different stories and short little amusing stop motion sections involving toy soldiers serving as interludes. There’s no bad entry but I did find each section improving over the last with the first, involving an obnoxious young band invoking restless spirits, the weakest and most predictable but still featuring some fun practical effects.


Tyler MacIntyre and Vanessa & Joseph Winter directed two of my favourite FrightFest films from the past years (TRAGEDY GIRLS and DEADSTREAM) and so it’s unsurprising that I enjoyed their segments the most. These involve peeping toms getting their comeuppance and a pair of goofy blokes at a Y2K party/cult ending up trapped in a nightmarish demon world. The latter contains the same mixture of silly jokes and genuine creepy frights that made DEADSTREAM such fun and I’m definitely looking forward to see what the Winters come up with next.


Then there’s the decent, but familiar, yarn of a sorority hazing prank gone wrong, that’s especially triggering for the claustrophobic, and a truly bizarre, but darkly funny, segment that starts with a Nickelodeon-esque kid’s gameshow but ultimately goes in a very unexpected direction that I won’t spoil.


Many Blu-ray releases of smaller films nowadays skimp on the special features but there’s a good selection included here; audio commentary, deleted scenes, the full music video for the band “Bitchcat” featured in the first short, bloopers and the recording of a full panel with the directors from Comic Con. So, plenty for fans to tuck into.


This is the fifth entry in the V/H/S franchise and, to my shame as a horror fan, I haven’t actually seen any of the prior entries and so I can’t say how it compares to those but in comparison to other modern horror anthologies that I have seen it’s pretty good. I’ve never watched one of these anthology horrors which I thought was amazing, mostly they seem like talented filmmakers just messing about and having a bit of inconsequential fun. There’s no completely dire segment in V/H/S/99 (which often there is) and everything is entertaining and fairly well paced but there’s also nothing here which really stood out as something special.


Overall, this is a solid if unremarkable entry in the strangely enduring V/H/S franchise. It will give you a few frights and a few laughs but not linger in the memory for too long. Honestly the scariest thing is realising that 1999 is now over two decades ago.


John Upton.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
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