A group of horny teens thirsting and spying over a MILF who turns out to be none other than Medusa is probably the most profoundly hilarious state V/H/S 99 could ever reach.
The franchise that has been churning out found-footage horrors with a particular pattern of presenting anthologies of amusing spooky tales inside already established frame narratives, it has finally decided to break outside of its signature model with its latest installment. And that has turned out to be a wise decision as this one is arguably the strongest among all the five VHS movies.
One of the most popular sub-genres of horror, the found-footage style, is particularly known for its realistic, grounded approach, as the audience can very much relate to the world they see on screen. It’s the same doors, windows, roads, and cars of the world we live in where the “horror” is hiding in plain sight to get the characters who can very well be our own selves. But V/H/S 99, while breaking out of their own franchise’s staple formula, has also managed to take a unique approach to the genre itself by venturing into lores, mythology, and literal Hell.
While the movie seems to have been cut from the same cloth as its predecessors when it comes to its look and overall feel, the content is much different. There is no frame narrative here as that has been replaced with stop-motion animations of toy soldiers, which are eventually revealed to be made by a young boy named Brady, who happens to be one of the characters in the Medusa story, “The Gawkers.”
With interesting and relevant topics like the exploitation of children and endangering them in show business, isolation resulted from bullying along with more conventional themes like a bunch of stupid young adults heading to an abandoned site of a terrible tragedy and eventually being haunted by the victims; this movie manages to keep the audience engaged at the edge of their seats from the beginning to the ending.
A lot can be said about the final segment; a particularly insane story of a ritual of summoning the demon Ukabon on new years eve going wrong and a bunch of videographers trying to find their way back home to earth from literal with the help of a tortured, friendly soul named Mabel. This is arguably the pinnacle found-footage horror genre could ever reach, and for that alone, V/H/S 99 deserves all the praise from horror fanatics.
The cast, consisting of lesser-known actors, has done a very commendable job here by delivering a very natural, realistic performance. However, the pick of the lot is a familiar face, Steven Ogg, which can be seen in popular shows like Better Call Saul and The Walking Dead. He plays an old game show host who is now being tormented by the family of one of the contestants who suffered a terrible fate in the same show many years ago; Ogg manages to showcase his talent by perfectly portraying a variety of emotions from excitement to anger to fear, in a very short span of time.
The five mini-segments of the movie are helmed by different directors, all of whom should be lauded for how they have confidently handled these crazy tales of screams and suspense. Johannes Roberts, director of the second segment, “Suicide Bid,” and known for “47 Meter Down” and its sequel, is possibly the most known name among this talented group.
Considering how the first four movies turned out to be, V/H/S 99 was probably going to be another casually viewed installment of this moderately popular horror franchise during the month of Halloween. But a change in approach and a very committed cast and crew have managed to make this one much more than that. In fact, who would have thought that it would actually turn out to be one of the best horrors of the year and give new life to the franchise?
With the recent announcement of a sixth installment called V/H/S 85, which was secretly shot back to back with this one, there is no stopping this franchise after all, and that is actually a good thing for horror fans.