V/H/S/94 made its world premiere at Fantastic Fest before heading to Shudder as part of the 61 Days of Halloween. The first installment in the series since 2014 sees four new tales of found footage terror. The stories include a reporter investigating an urban legend, a story set in a funeral home, a mad scientist at work, and a militia with a new weapon that will take down America.
One of the best things about anthologies is they can provide different types of stories. This is definitely the case here as even though they are all horror, each brings something different to the table. Two of the stories are very much of their time (that time being the mid 1990s), one has a classic scary story to tell in the dark feel, while another is a mix of body horror and science fiction.
This keeps the audience on their toes and makes V/H/S/94 very fun. Each story is not beholden to a format and the creators are allowed to craft their own playground. The wraparound is also different from any of the stories. Arguably, it is the most tense story. Admittedly, the device used to get from one story to the next is not the most creative, but it plays into the twist at the end.
The film – especially ‘Storm Drain’ and ‘Terror’ – are filled with comedy. Chole Okuno’s nod to the Alabama Leprechaun is an amazing piece of filmmaking while the almost Keystone Cops like militia in ‘Terror’ are so incompetent it is impossible not to laugh in spite of their extremist views. It is important to have these moments to provide respite to the natural tension the genre is imbued with.
‘The Empty Wake’ has a completely different tone than the other segments. It is similar to a spooky story a person would tell their friends. This is a nice addition to V/H/S/94 as it remains true to the style while giving a fresh atmosphere. This does not mean it is not scary; it boasts the most effective use of sound and its traditional storytelling structure will be appreciated by those who have been fans of horror since they were children.
‘Subject’ is a wild tale that is almost comical in how outrageous it becomes. There are some fantastic moments, including a series of scenes that will make Cyberpunk 2077 fans think about what could have been. This may be the most straightforward tale in V/H/S/94. It is less about suspension and more about the gory visceral moments. It delivers big bombastic moments not usually found in these types or movies.
By the time the fourth part of a horror franchise (really, most movies in general) comes out, fans will begin to question whether it is time to put the series to rest. Five or six films later, that is usually what happens. V/H/S/94 is arguably the strongest entry yet. The break between the previous installment prevents franchise fatigue and each part if creative and unique.
Fantastic Fest takes place from September 23 – September 30. Check out AIPT’s ongoing coverage.
V/H/S/94 comes to Shudder October 6
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