Monday, October 4, 2021

V/H/S/94 - Movie Review

The Movie: V/H/S/94

The Directors:
Simon Barrett - The Empty Wake
Chloe Okuno - Storm Drain
Ryan Prows - Terror
Jennifer Reeder - Holy Hell
Timo Tjahjanto - The Subject

The Story: 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.

The Review:
The V/H/S horror anthology series has been one of my favorite of what I guess is a pretty well established sub genre so I was excited when Shudder announced this new installment of the franchise. If you're not familiar with these movies, each of them contains a collection of found footage short films that are individual stories although there is an overarching narrative that ties them all together. Every short film falls within the world of horror and the only stipulation is that they look like you are watching a VHS tape except for V/H/S Viral which took advantage of more modern video recording devices.

This film is broken into five separate shorts films with one being the connective tissue among them and each was created by a very talented director who brought their own unique take on the V/H/S found footage format. I'll do a short review on each of the segments. They are listed in order of appearance.

Holy Hell - Jennifer Reeder
This is the one that kicks off the film and we see bits of it between each of the other films before providing the ultimate conclusion. From the opening moments, we see a SWAT team making their way through dark hallways, creepy stairwells, and rooms filled with all kinds of horrible stuff. The whole thing reminded me a lot of the space marines in Aliens with a little bit of The Raid mixed in. I will say there is a very significant reveal at the end that makes it worthwhile and the story acts as a decent enough through line for the other shorts so it definitely works for what it is.

Storm Drain - Chloe Okuno
I liked this short because it has an element of comedy that lets you know that it knows it's a bit absurd so you're kind of in on the fun when things go off the deep end. Director Chloe Okuno does a great job of creating a gruesomely fun creature feature that gets better and better as it builds to its finale. The story also opens up a world that would be quite interesting to explore further so maybe we'll get to see more of the "Ratman" worshipping cult. #HailRaatma

The Empty Wake - Simon Barrett
This one was okay, there just wasn't much to it. It takes about two minutes to figure out what's going to happen and everything you think is going to happen happens. That being said it was fine as a 16 minute short and it does fit in nicely with a similar narrative thread as the rest of the films. These shorts are all about creatures and messing with the natural order of things with this one falling into the supernatural part of that equation.

The Subject - Timo Tjahjanto
Timo Tjahjanto co-directed Safe Haven from V/H/S 2 alongside Gareth Evans who is responsible for The Raid franchise that I mentioned a moment ago and is my favorite short film of the entire series. I would say The Subject might just fall right in step as my number two favorite short of the series as it has just about everything I might look for in a horror themed short film. Tjahjanto tells the story of a mad scientist not unlike the famous Dr. Frankenstein who combined a real human body with mechanical parts to create (or re-create) life. I really, really want to see more of this story sci-fi horror film whether it be future installments or a full length adaptation. How do we make this happen?!

Terror - Ryan Prows
Okay, this might be the scariest short of them all and it is definitely the funniest of them all and it's also the one that should give you the most satisfaction. Prows basically asks what if a white supremacist, religious extremist, nationalist cult acquired a supernatural force and planned to use it as a weapon of mass destruction. I had a blast, multiple actually, watching them try to execute this mission of destruction that is somehow endorsed by Mr. Jesus Christ himself as an act of cleansing this great country. If this sounds eerily familiar, it's because these groups actually do exist and I really hope none of them ever acquire supernatural forces.

The Verdict:
V/H/S/94 reignites a found footage franchise that I think most of us had thought had been rewound and returned, hopefully with no late fees. It's great to see a new V/H/S film hit the new release wall again with a quality collection of stories and a promise of more to come.

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