Fantastic Fest: ‘V/H/S 94’ Review – ‘A nice mix of spooky and at times ridiculous’

Fantastic Fest: V/H/S 94 (2021)

Directed By: Simon Barrett, Chloe Okuno, Ryan Prows

Starring: Anna Hopkins, Sean Patrick Dolan, Dru Viergever, Kimmy Choi, Dax Ravina, Jennifer Reeder

Plot Summary: V/H/S/94 is the fourth installment in the hit horror anthology franchise and marks the return of the infamous found footage anthology with segments from franchise alumni Simon Barrett (Séance) and Timo Tjahjanto (May the Devil Take You Too) in addition to acclaimed directors Jennifer Reeder (Knives & Skin), Ryan Prows (Lowlife) and Chloe Okuno (Slut). In V/H/S/94, after the discovery of a mysterious VHS tape, a brutish police swat team launch a high intensity raid on a remote warehouse, only to discover a sinister cult compound whose collection of pre-recorded material uncovers a nightmarish conspiracy.

The V/H/S series has been going strong since 2012. I just got to watch and review The Found Footage Phenomena, so it seemed almost eerily fitting that the screener for the latest V/H/S 94 show up. On a personal note, I admit I was really looking forward to this film even though it’s been a while since I’ve seen a V/H/S entry. In fact, it’s been a whopping seven years since the last movie in the franchise. Fans are no doubt wondering, has it been well worth the wait? I am happy to report that yes, this was a hell of a lotta fun.

The wraparound starts things off right with a lot of atmosphere and quick pace that helped set a nice tone for the rest of the film. The first segment, entitled “The Storm Drain,” not only is a humorous and clever satire on meme culture (the amateur sketch of the rat is a nice nod to the early meme/viral news story Crichton Leprechaun), but it is a properly creepy and dread-filled outing. This segment and the last, “Terror,” really make the most of the low-fi VHS visual style. Segment two “The Empty Wake,” I have to admit, was the one I connected with the least. Simon Barrett (who is no stranger to this series and genre cinema in general) directs an eerie piece, but it felt like it didn’t go anywhere or do anything that interesting.

The third and possibly my favorite segment, “The Subject,” is a blood and oil-soaked cyberpunk nightmare that gets more and more frenzied until it feels like a meth-fueled first-person shooter. It’s not the most narratively complex, but it was never dull and was always upping the insanity. The fourth and final segment, “Terror,” is certainly the most pointed in terms of politics which may annoy you. Personally, I thought it was a nice way to add some metatext without belaboring its point. It also had some nice twists that kept it engaging. The finale of the wraparound was fun if not just a tad bit underwhelming.

Like most horror anthologies, there are always a few duds in the mix. ’94 does have a few weaker segments but, honestly, nothing that I would consider truly bad. It certainly isn’t enough to break up the flow and more importantly fun of this film.

Overall, I was happy that even some of the weaker entries still were enjoyable and had a nice mix of spooky and at times ridiculous.

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