Monday, October 4, 2021

Ominous October - V/H/S/94 (2021)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: V/H/S/94 (2021)
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Length: 100 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Bloody Disgusting, Cinepocalypse Productions, Raven Banner Entertainment, Studio71, Shudder
Director: Simon Barrett, Chloe Okuno, Ryan Prows, Jennifer Reeder, Timo Tjahjanto
Writer: Simon Barrett, David Bruckner, Chloe Okuno, Ryan Prows, Jennifer Reeder, Timo Tjahjanto
Actors: Anna Hopkins, Steven McCarthy, Sean Patrick Dolan, Tim Campbell, Dru Viergever, Dax Ravina, Kimmy Choi, Christian Lloyd, Conor Sweeney, Slavic Rogozine, Thiago Dos Santos, Kevin P. Gabel, Daniel Williston
Blurb from IMDb: A police S.W.A.T. team investigates about a mysterious VHS tape and discovers a sinister cult that has pre-recorded material which uncovers a nightmarish conspiracy.

Selina’s Point of View:
Welcome to our Ominous October!
Every year we do a whole month of nothing but horror films for October, and this year is no different. You may remember us calling it our Shudder Spree, but we’ve opted to branch out to various sources for our spooks, hence the name change.
Never-the-less, we had to start off the month with our favorite horror streaming platform.
Although you can find horror flicks on all the streaming services, there’s no digging through other genres to get there if you’re using Shudder. With it, you can streamline your journey to finding the terror you’re looking for to complete your day – especially during the Halloween season. If you’re a horror lover like we are, it just makes sense to go for the subscription, especially since it’s one of the cheapest there is out there.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about V/H/S/94.
I’ll admit that I don’t remember a whole lot about the framing devices used in the first 3. I do think I’ll remember this one, though.
The extra-staticky feel of it threw me off at first. It’s found footage, so I expected shaky-cam. The worn-out, snowy, VHS quality of the framing device still caught me off guard because it added a whole other layer to the period immersion. It was a bit distracting at first – but I really liked it by the end. It fit the over-arching theme and the final twist was completely unexpected.
There was a secondary theme seen throughout the segments in V/H/S/94. That was: supernatural creatures.

Revealing any of the actual creatures would be considered spoilers. Some of the segments really rely on that unknown/surprise factor. I expected the trailer to give away some of those surprises, but that never happened.
I did have a least, and most, favorite of the parts.
I’d say the second segment really didn’t thrill me. A lot of it was about the main character sitting around in near-silence with the occasional loud sound meant to shock. Now, I don’t mind jump scares. I’ve loved some films that relied solely on them. In this case, I just don’t think it worked. It was a short film, under 20-minutes long, and most of it was silence. The same 15-minutes in a basic-length film would have been fine. Here, I wanted more.
My favorite segment was the one right after that.
It started with a Frankenstein (as in the plot of the book) meets The Human Centipede (2009) feel. Some risks were taken in that segment that could have failed spectacularly. Instead, I was truly invested. If anything, I want that whole thing in a video game. Someone get on that. I’d pay $60 for a full-length shooter based around the characters and plot involved in that 3rd chapter.
In the end, V/H/S/94 was the best of the series. I didn’t feel the runtime, but I did feel the fear here and there. It’s suitable creepy for a Halloween mood.
If you want to see this one for yourself, V/H/S/94 will be available on Shudder this Wednesday, October 6.

Cat’s Point of View:
What better way to kick off an Ominous October, than to revisit a well-known horror franchise by way of its latest installment. V/H/S/94 brings us back to the found-footage horror anthology, and I’ve been anticipating it with both dread and excitement since we first learned of this new installment.
I’ll be honest, I don’t remember a whole lot about the first few V/H/S (2012) films. I do, however, recall that they were sufficiently creepy and hit-or-miss on quality. That’s generally what you expect from a collection of projects such as this, however. Each writer/director team is going to give a different feel to their work. Some things play out better than others. V/H/S/94 is definitely ahead of the pack, as the most successful so far.
The S.W.A.T. raid framework tied everything together nicely without having to stretch our suspension of disbelief beyond what we were experiencing with each of the short film segments. The exploration of the crazy compound they find themselves in adds to the overall unease of the collective experience.
I’m not the biggest fan of found-footage – mostly because of its inherent shaky-cam. I don’t get motion sickness as a rule, but good grief there have been some jolting productions out there that have made me disoriented and queasy. I’m happy to say that V/H/S/94 wasn’t one of those. You can’t avoid some bobbing and weaving with this sort of project, but this was just enough without going nuts with it.

The grainy and streaky look of a well-watched VHS tape was only mildly irritating at the beginning. It was easy to get past and ultimately brought a slight sense of nostalgia for me. There’s definitely quite a bit of homage to the antiquated titular video medium laced within the segments. Those that lived through the era of ‘be kind and rewind’ may get a little kick out of it. 
V/H/S/94 is unapologetically grisly and brutal throughout all of its segments. Audiences should certainly brace themselves for violence and gore. The chaos in the trailer really only scratches the surface. Each short plays to a different set of fears – from the subterranean unknown to mad science and from the unease of a dark and stormy night alone in a funeral home to militia extremists. These short films bridge the gap from unnatural and supernatural to some very real causes of concern.
V/H/S/94 is certainly a spectacular way to kick off the spooky season. I dare say it’s worth the subscription cost for Shudder if you don’t already have the streaming service. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 8.1/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating 4.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R
P.S. We’re not sponsored by Shudder, we’re just big fans.
Movie Trailer:

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