Making a horror anthology these days can be difficult because they seem to happen so often. With so much competition it can be hard to stand out and so everything from having female led short films to stories with a science fiction twist could be included. Although anthologies are usually made to show the talent of different filmmakers, sometimes a single director will have a vision and want to make it their own.
However, it is safe to say that horror anthologies are best when they have a framing device that ties the stories together
V/H/S 99 is the latest horror anthology exclusive to Shudder and from the franchise of V/H/S movies which has gained a cult following among horror fans. Having gone through various eras of horror cinema, the latest instalment finds itself in what probably could be its last. Not because the originality of the stories is running out but being so close to the 21st century may mean a change in technology.
Starting out with its framing device, very short movies are made from animated plastic toy soldiers and either that will work for people, or it will not. On the one hand the gags that are done with the soldiers may rise a smile, but on the other it does not exactly pretend that there is a cohesive narrative between stories.
However, the stories contained within could not be any more different. Stories such as Shredding, about a post punk band tormented by a vengeful spirit. Suicide Bid where a new sorority’s pledge has her dream of belonging turned into a nightmare. Ozzy’s Dungeon, where a sadistic gameshow host gets what is coming to him. The Gawkers where a group of teenage boys get a lesson on being careful where you look. Then finally To Hell and Back where a demonic ritual sends two young men to the other side.
As with most horror anthologies that are written and directed by entirely different people there may be some things that work for some and some that do not. The visual effects are consistent throughout and impressive in some areas, but the stories are the things that stand them apart. For example, shorter stories such as The Gawkers work the best for their impact, but Ozzy’s Dungeon seems to go on too long and becomes a showcase for the visual effects team.
However, overall, the anthology shows that horror is alive and well and that imagination is limitless.
V/H/S/99 is available to stream exclusively on Shudder.com.
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