Directed by: Simon Barrett and Steven Kostanski and Chloe Okuno and Ryan Prows and Jennifer Reeder and Timo Tjahjanto
Premise: The fourth entry in the V/H/S anthology series. This volume consists of four found footage horror segments connected by a wraparound story of a SWAT team raiding a warehouse full of video monitors.
What Works: The gimmick of the V/H/S series is the way that it replicates the look of that home video format. The graininess and analog defects of VHS have a nostalgic meaning to viewers of a certain age but the format also has an association with certain kinds of videos, namely homemade and bootleg recordings. What is unique about V/H/S/94 is the way it connects the content with the 1990s time period. Several of the stories are specifically situated in that decade. That is most evident in “Terror” which is easily the best segment of this volume. “Terror” documents the activities of an anti-government militia group who have developed a supernatural weapon. This is the best acted and written segment of the anthology and it offers a unique story as well as the most convincing found footage illusion. Also impressive is “The Subject” which is about a mad scientist constructing bionic creatures in his lab. Although it doesn’t offer much in the way of character or narrative, “The Subject” possesses some impressive visuals; the VHS format allow the filmmakers to disguise the mechanics of the special effects and some of its images recall 1990s first-person shooter video games.
What Doesn’t: Found footage movies face the inherent challenge of justifying the existence of the footage. Some segments of V/H/S/94 also struggle with this especially “The Empty Wake.” There’s no plausible reason for the character to keep recording. By far the weakest story of V/H/S/94 is the wraparound segment. This series has done premises like this one before and it’s not done well here. It comes across staged and extraneous and fails to add anything to the rest of the anthology.
Bottom Line: V/H/S/94 is one of the better horror anthologies of recent years and one of the best entries in this series. Despite the weak wraparound story, each of the four primary segments are consistently good and offer a variety of stories and scares.
Episode: #874 (October 24, 2021)