Monday, October 17, 2022

Ominous October - V/H/S/99 (2022)

Streaming Service: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: V/H/S/99 (2022)
Genre: Horror, Anthology
Length: 1h 49min
Rating: Unrated
Production/Distribution: Shudder, Studio 71, Red Arrow Studios, Bloody Disgusting, Soapbox Films, CinePocalypse
Directors: Flying Lotus, Maggie Levin, Tyler MacIntyre, Johannes Roberts, Joseph Winter, Vanessa Winter
Writers: Zoe Cooper, Flying Lotus, Chris Lee Hill, Maggie Levin, Tyler MacIntyre, Johannes Roberts, Joseph Winter, Vanessa Winter
Actors: Various
IMDb Blurb: Witness a hellish vision of 1999, as social isolation, analog technology and disturbing home videos fuse into a nightmare of found footage savagery.

Cat’s Point of View:
We’re halfway through our Ominous October lineup, and I was excited to explore Shudder’s new V/H/S anthology offering for this midway milestone. Both Selina and I loved the last installment helmed by the horror streamer – albeit, some of the earlier sequels not so much. For that reason, I had V/H/S/99 listed as my #10 entry on my personal Top 20 List for October, while Selina had this as her #6 pick.
While I’m a bit of an eternal optimist, this is at least the 5th movie in the franchise. I felt at this point that I should be realistic with my expectations. It’s been clear in the past that these can really be hit or miss. The hits land really hard, however, and I was sincerely hoping that V/H/S/99 would follow in the successful footsteps of V/H/S/94 (2021).
I have mixed emotions about V/H/S/99.

One thing that this new installment got right was the general grungy punk feel of the ‘90s. I was instantly transported back to the peak of the Blockbuster Video era and mix-tape cassettes on the shelf alongside CD collections. 1999 was a good year for me. I was off on my own doing the adulting thing, and I got married that year. The majority of V/H/S/99 fit right in with the vibe of that time period.
As another positive, I was glad that the shaky cam wasn’t too horrendous for an anthology of found-footage shorts. Sometimes these segments can get really out of hand with whipping the camera around as hapless victims panic and scramble from the villain du jour.
Beyond that, this latest incarnation of the V/H/S (2012) franchise fell a bit into the hit-or-miss category.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience. It just lacked the cohesiveness that V/H/S/94 gave us. The transition sequences did offer a little levity while underscoring the overall horror, but they were only loosely connected to the individual segments. When I say it connected at all, I’m being generous, to be honest. I have my own theory about what it represented and how it all tied together. It was something you could have expected from a lost and found VHS tape that had been recorded-over multiple times, in theory.
The individual entries in the anthology were decent. One shouldn’t expect anything flashy in these, since they’re meant to represent amateur home videos. The production value was great for all of its low-budget glory. I got some decent and satisfying spooks out of the experience, though I don’t know that there was anything truly terrifying among the offerings. If the over-arching transitions between each of them had tied them together somehow aside from fitting in the general timeline, it would have elevated everything just that much more.

I was also a little disappointed that they didn’t lean harder into the Y2K paranoia that gripped the world in ’99. So many thought it was practically going to be a doomsday with planes falling out of the sky and grids shutting down. I remember watching a live telecast of the transition to January 1, 2000, as the date crossed the globe. I had a knot in my stomach, worrying that lunatics were going to cause a self-fulfilling prophecy of anarchy whether computers went wonky or not. I think this particular anthology entry would have benefited from more of that than a single mention off-hand in one of the segments.
When stacked up to the prior V/H/S installments, V/H/S/99 wasn’t the worst, by far. It wasn’t, however, the best, either. I still have hope for this franchise, though. Perhaps they were a bit too fast to rush to production after the success of V/H/S/94. Hopefully, they won’t repeat these mistakes with the next announced installment of V/H/S/85, which is due out in 2023 sometime.
You can catch V/H/S/99 on Shudder starting Thursday, October 20th.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 69%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – 53%
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.7/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 3.5/5

Trust the Dice: Parental Advisory Rating – R

P.S. - There is a brief scene following the credits.
Movie Trailer:

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