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

V/H/S/85 **


Directed by Scott Derrickson/David Bruckner/Natasha Kermani/Mike P. Nelson/Gigi Saul Guerrero.
Starring Kelli Garner, Freddy Rodríguez, James Ransone, Dashiell Derrickson, Tyler Noble.
Horror, USA/Mexico, 111 mins, cert 18.

Released in the UK on DVD & Blu-ray via Acorn Media on 4th March 2024.


The V/H/S franchise continues to transport us to random years within the video tape era, and having made a couple of stops in the ‘90s it is time for the 1980s to have a go. 1985 was right in the middle of the video tape explosion, with rental shops becoming palaces to those looking for more than just whatever the mainstream TV channels could throw at them, so this could potentially be the best V/H/S yet, right?


Well, not quite. First thing to note is that back in 1985, video cameras were huge and not quite so easy to handle so seeing one of the characters in the first short, NO WAKE, wielding one in a mirror is quite funny. After that the story becomes a FRIDAY THE 13TH homage (sort of) as horny teens go out to a secluded lake, only for the inevitable slaughter to happen, but that isn’t the end of it.


A bit of a weird one narratively, but the kills are fantastic and there are some well executed gore effects that the 1985-style VHS tracking thankfully doesn’t blur out. The fun doesn’t stop there as director Mike P. Nelson returns later, but before then there is the second short, GOD OF DEATH, directed by Gigi Saul Guerrero. An earthquake in Mexico during a TV news broadcast forces the surviving crew underground, where they discover the source of the disaster, and, quite frankly, this is the best segment of them all. It has action, horror, nudity and something lurking in the rubble that you wouldn’t expect to find, and it just works, utilising the video camera aesthetic thanks to the TV studio setting, and providing a climax worth waiting for.


The same of which cannot be said for TKNOGD, directed by Natasha Kermani. Here, a performance artist tries to convince an audience that VR is the new religion and ends up summoning a demon via a headset and power gloves (remember them?). It’s a fun idea but the execution is painfully drawn out, the result being a cool visual, but it is a chore to get to it.


AMBROSIA sees Mike P. Nelson return, and ties into his earlier segment with a family reunion that goes slightly wrong. It has an intriguing idea at its core that feels like it came from a longer story that has been cut down to fit the short running time, wrapping up quickly in siege movie fashion before the final segment proper, DREAMKILL. Directed by Scott Derrickson, this feels like it should have been a centrepiece for the whole movie as a goth kid who has been arrested has videotapes of murders that have happened in his dreams.


Another great idea let down by a narrative stuffed with too many twists and turns, again feeling like a longer story that has been trimmed down. The POV murders are nicely done, and the overall tone is a bit darker than the other shorts, but there is too much going on here to be crammed into 15-20 minutes, resulting in a bit of a mess.


The wraparound, TOTAL COPY, is the weakest of the bunch, as a story about a shape shifter and government cover-ups is stretched out to the point where it is difficult to stay interested. Overall, V/H/S/85 is back to the mixed bag offerings of the earlier entries in the series, which is a disappointment after the fun time that was V/H/S/94. The gore is plentiful, and there are lots of ideas being floated around, but perhaps this format was not the best showcase for such grand designs. Hopefully, the next destination the filmmakers take us to will prove to be more satisfying.


Chris Ward.


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