Most movies deserve reviews. V/H/S/99 demands an autopsy and cremation
Film | Jorge Ignacio Castillo | Oct. 13, 2022
Available Thursday 20
The V/H/S series has gone from mediocre (V/H/S/2) to surprisingly entertaining (V/H/S/94), and back again.
But how about terrible? Have we done terrible, yet?
The V/H/S concept — found footage of supernatural events — gives filmmakers a wide canvas and a limited set of tools. Constraints can be good for movies because they force writers and directors to find creative ways to do more with less. Unfortunately, the V/H/S films’ results are mostly cheap-looking and painfully dumb.
It gets worse. Unlike the previous four entries, V/H/S/99 doesn’t even have tested talent behind the camera (the first had Ti West, Adam Wingard and David Bruckner at the helm). Two of its five shorts are like bad film school exercises while the remaining three drive their mildly amusing ideas into the ground.
So yes, V/H/S/99 is abysmal. But for fairness’ sake, let’s break it down segment by segment before we set it on fire and never speak of it again.
“SHREDDING” The opening short is a harbinger of the ineptitude-palooza to come. A garage band records a video in the condemned venue where fans trampled an all-female punk group to death. Several problems: you know exactly where this is going, the special effects are Halloween-popup-store level, and every character is unpleasant.
“SUICIDE BID” A group of mean sorority girls trick a freshman into getting buried alive. To no one’s surprise, the hazing goes sideways. Even if you forgive the atrocious dialogue (written by a 46-year-old white dude), the whole thing has been done, and much better, by Ryan Reynolds in 2010’s Buried. This short is directed by Johannes Roberts, who puts his name ahead of his movies’ titles like he’s John Carpenter (he is not).
“OZZY’S DUNGEON” Remember those Nickelodeon game shows with in-studio obstacle courses? What if they were … evil? In “Ozzy’s Dungeon”, a family takes revenge on the host of a particularly irresponsible game after their daughter is maimed. The conclusion is somewhat clever, but takes so hard a turn towards the grotesque it’s unpalatable.
“THE GAWKERS” This Fright Night rip-off features a group of idiotic teenagers who get more than they bargained for when the attractive girl-next-door gives them more than a peek of her body. The characters are uniquely unpleasant and the plot trite, but it’s the bad CGI that really takes the turd-cake.
“TO HELL AND BACK” This one has horror elements but it’s basically a comedy in the vein of Seth Rogen’s This Is the End (meaning: not great). A couple of hapless satanists end up in hell when their spell to bring the Devil to Earth backfires. Nothing to write home about, but at least its creators clearly spent more than 15 minutes writing it. Unlike the other four segments. ■