Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
This October I decided to watch and review some of those great horror movies (31 to be exact) that I missed on their initial release. And for my final entry of my series of the 31 OF THE BEST HORROR MOVIES YOU (MAY HAVE) MISSED we will be checking out horror anthology sequel V/H/S 94. Let’s get to it:
Day 31: V/H/S 94 (2021)
Directors: Jennifer Reeder (Holy Hell), Simon Barrett (segment The Empty Wake), Steven Kostanski (segment The Veggie Masher), Chloe Okuno (segment Storm Drain), Ryan Prows (segment Terror)
Starring: Jennifer Reeder, Chloe Okuno, Simon Barrett
IMDb Trivia: Takes place after the events of V/H/S Viral.
Plot: A police SWAT team investigates a mysterious VHS tape and discovers a sinister cult that has pre-recorded material which uncovers a nightmarish conspiracy.
Review: Of all the horror anthologies out there the V/H/S series might be the least unknown and let’s say, “niche”, of the bunch. What makes them stand out from the others would be the fact they are all shot in a hand-held camera style to give it that found footage finish (try saying that ten times in a row). The fourth and latest in this series is ’94. And while it is new as it was released this year, it’s still the kind of horror film most mainstream viewers would probably skip by, which would be a shame because not since the first V/H/S film from 2012 have I seen segments this memorable and fun.
Like all anthologies V/H/S/94 has one main plot thread to link them all. Short version, a SWAT team raids a location in search of a strange drug. Instead they find a woman in white with her eyes gouged out her voice coming through the speakers as she speaks of something called “the signal”. They discover a bunch of cells each with a television playing static and as they advance further they find a room with a VHS tape that starts playing a newscast. And this is where our segments begin.
Classics like Creepshow, The Twilight Zone Movie, Cat’s Eye and modern masterpiece Trick ‘r Treat are all examples of horror anthologies that not only have great segments but they also work well as a whole. While I can’t say the same about the V/H/S films (I’ve always felt the main plot was the laziest and least fulfilling aspect of this series) the segments themselves definitely contain some winners, with some like Siren from the original going on to have full-length movies made. Storm Drain, The Empty Wake, The Subject and Terror are our segments (the prologue/framing narrative is called Holy Hell) and I can honestly say I found each and everyone of them to be entertaining and most importantly, horrifying in their own right.
My favourites of the bunch are The Subject, Terror and The Empty Wake. Without spoiling things for anyone interested in checking them out, The Subject was tailor-made for PO- styled shooting, with the first half feeling like you’re seeing Dr Frankenstein from the monster’s perspective and the second half like you’re wearing a VR headset while playing the bloodiest video game of all time. Equally tragic and horrific, if I had to rate them all The Terror would take the number one spot followed by the satirical and darkly comedic Terror. Even when you finally figure out what exactly is happening in Terror you’ll still find yourself eagerly awaiting its blood-splattered conclusion. Last but not least was The Empty Wake. Being stuck in the room with a dead body would creep anyone out; throw in a power outage, the inability to leave the room you’re in and a body that disappears and reappears in the worst possible way and you have yourself all the makings of a segment filled with jump scares that don’t feel forced or wasted.
I was genuinely surprised how much I enjoyed V/H/S/94. It’s not that I didn’t like the previous films to varying degrees, but as is the case with most horror anthologies (excepting of course the gold medal winners I listed above) most times you find yourself with maybe one or two enjoyable stories and the rest are instantly forgettable. With the exception of the lacklustre main plot line of Holy Hell, I found each and everyone of these stories stood out in one way or the other. I didn’t mention Storm Drain above because while it was creepy it was also very predictable.
The most important aspect of films shot in a found-footage style is that the narrative fits with the cinematography. I hate movies that use POV as a lazy (albeit cheap) way to shoot a story even when the idea of someone holding on to a camera while they’re being chased for their lives makes no sense. Here it works. Even in the case of The Empty Wake there’s a very logical reason why this person uses their phone as a camera (and as a source of light), so if horror anthologies are your bag, if your idea of horror is the more blood the better and if you’re looking for something new to watch to finish off the Halloween season, why not check out V/H/S/94? The best part? You don’t need to see any of the earlier movies in the series to understand this one because that’s the beauty of horror anthologies—as long as there are more fun stories than boring ones, you come out a winner. Happy Halloween everyone!
Sommer’s Score: 6 out of 10
You can check out Part 30 of my 31 Days List and May the Devil Take You below together with my review of horror anthology Scare Package.
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
Double Tap Baby!