The V/H/S franchise set a pretty high bar with its first two installments in 2012 and 2013. Among the strongest examples of both the anthology and found footage subcategories of the horror genre, the first two films became instant classics in a lot of ways, but the series hit a wall with the third installment in 2014. Seven years after V/H/S: Viral drew mostly negative reviews, the series returned to the screen – and returned to form – with the breakout hit V/H/S/94. With some of the strongest segments in the entire franchise and no real misses, it set an extremely high bar for this latest installment, V/H/S/99.
Upon its release on Shudder, V/H/S/99 received mixed but generally favorable reviews, though it didn’t seem to live up to 94 for many viewers. With extremely interesting and unique filmmakers at the helm and a can’t miss group of creative producers, very few critics or audience members thought the film to be a bad one, but many felt it was a step down from the previous entry into the franchise. However, it feels impossible for anyone to watch the film with close and critical eyes and not applaud its willingness to take big swings – perhaps the biggest in the cutting edge series.
Every segment works, even if none seem to stand out the way a couple of the 94 segments did, there’s nothing here that flat out doesn’t work – in contrast to the multiple segments in Viral that fall on their face. The ideas and visuals of “Ozzy’s Dungeon” from Flying Lotus are probably the most fun and nostalgic, while “Shredding” likely speaks most directly to this reviewer’s punk rock sensibilities. While neither of these segments represent the best or most interesting work from these two filmmakers, both serve as fun forays into the aesthetics, ideas, and feel of them. Flying Lotu’s Kuso is a must see that takes some of the bright visual look and over-the-top choices the viewer will experience in “Ozzy’s Dungeon” but ramps everything up to a more extreme level and a fully realized feature film. On the other hand, some of the work in Maggie Levin’s “Shredding” shows some growth as a filmmaker, but feels less fully realized that her debut feature My Valentine, that appeared on Hulu as an installment of Blumhouse’s Into the Dark series. Some of this is simply due to the format of a shorter form film, but in either case these installments serve as a great introduction to tooth of these filmmakers.
Along with these two segments, there are 3 more segments, all of which hit their beats and are quite entertaining. While tonally, this installment of the V/H/S series feels lighter – even sillier – than others on the whole, there is a demonstration of willingness to dive into some dark ideas, intense phobias, and heavy themes. Another thing that marks a diversion – in fact, the greatest diversion from all previous entries – is the lack of a real wraparound. This decision works to the film’s advantage in that the wraparounds in this series, and in many anthology films, don’t always work very well. In the case of the less successful wraparound stories, they can hurt the overall product.
The film released wide via the Shudder streaming service on October 20th, in the height of Shudder’s 2022 Halloween celebration. While many films on streaming services never hit the physical shelves, V/H/S/99 released this week on Blu-ray, DVD, and in a Steelbook edition with both formats included. Like the release of 94, the physical release comes from the genre masters at RLJE Films. The picture quality is fantastic – though at times it feels a bit too polished for something supposed to be found VHS footage – and audio sounds great, but it’s the commentary track that really sells this physical release, with a ton of really interesting discussion and behind the scenes looks at the film’s segments. In addition, you can watch the entire NY Comic Con with producer Josh Goldblum, writer/director Tyler McIntrye, and co-writers/directors Vanessa and Joe Winter – which is a great value added bonus to the release.
All in all, this is a fantastic purchase for any horror fan, as we know no film will ever be available for streaming forever. Yet, even if this film never leaves streaming, the physical release is well worth it for the really interesting thoughts and ideas on the special features.