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  V/H/S/94 Have We Got A Video?!
Year: 2021
Director: Simon Barrett, Chloe Okuno, Ryan Prows, etc
Stars: Anna Hopkins, Steven McCarthy, Dru Viergever, Tim Campbell, Kimmy Choi, Christian Lloyd, Dax Ravina, Slavic Rogozine, Thiago Dos Santos, Kevin P. Gabel, William Jordan, Daniel Williston, Kyle Durack, Sean Patrick Dolan, Sophia Machula
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The year is 1994, and a SWAT team have broken into a compound run by a sinister cult to find out what is really going on in there and how much of a threat they pose. However, as they enter the maze of corridors and cavernous rooms, the team are surprised to find the cult members sitting around in front of screens with their eyes torn out - could they have done this to themselves? And what have they seen to provoke them to such drastic action? The armed force know they must discover this for themselves, even if it means risking their sanity by watching the videos playing on the screens, like this local news report...

This was the fourth instalment in the V/H/S franchise, which seemed to be nobody's favourite horror movie series yet somehow was successful enough to carry on for some years. Obviously someone liked it, but its mix of found footage and anthology may have been looking a shade past its prime by 2021 when this was released, largely to streaming. The gimmick here was that the footage we saw had been captured on a videotape, which offered the opportunity to create chillers with a vintage flavour, and if you thought 1994 was too late in the day to be using that outdated technology, in fact VHS remained prevalent until the end of the nineties.

You couldn't make a movie called DVD/1994 because the tech had not evolved that way, you might be better off with 3½“ Disc/1994, but the tape era still contained a certain, well, glamour was pushing it, but appeal might be the right word, whether you were there for that era or not, and this particular film served up the chance to see just how crappy the quality of home entertainment was before the high definition revolution arrived. Tracking lines abounded, you know, for that authentic look, which if you were not in tune with the sensibility could be highly irritating and have you asking if these stories would not be better in clear, proper, digital quality?

But in for a penny, in for a pound, and they certainly committed to the look so if you were invested in the previous entries, you would be happy to watch this. What were the stories like, though? First up was a news clip compilation of a reporter (Anna Hopkins) and her cameraman investigating a story about a "ratman" in the sewers, ending in a conclusion that owed something to the finale of The Howling. Next, a funeral home yarn where an employee left after hours to take care of any guests wishing to pay their respects is shocked to hear the sound of someone alive inside the coffin. Well, I say alive... Some neat makeup effects distinguished this one, though took a while to show up, but the lack of a proper ending harmed it.

Third was possibly the longest segment, probably overlong if you were honest, where a scientist not unlike the sort of unsavoury protagonist you would find in a Guinea Pig instalment of the nineties carried out experiments on innocent victims. The sort of mad doctor business that stretched back to the thirties, basically, only with twenty-twenties special effects that were impressive but repetitive as one augmented patient went rogue and we saw her rampage from her point of view (when she looks in a mirror, she has a camera implanted in her bonce). Lastly, and back with the cults that seemed to be the bogeymen of the thirty years later era this effort was made in, a rather confused tale of more experiments as an illegal militia planning fascist terrorism with the help of an explosive superweapon contained in blood. This was well done on a technical level, but you could be forgiven for not knowing what it was all about. The film closed on a coda that didn't make much dramatic sense either, but V/H/S/94 was a fine way to pass the time for gorehounds.

[Available on Shudder from 6th October 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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