Following V/H/S: Viral, the found-footage anthology series took an extended break until last Halloween season. Horror-streaming platform Shudder released V/H/S/94 to a strong critical response and record-setting viewership. Not surprisingly, Shudder promptly announced yet another sequel also set in the 1990s – V/H/S/99. And it makes sense – how could the horror anthology series miss a chance to do Y2K? Critics have been a little more lukewarm on this one. But someone was impressed enough with the five story segments to order up another sequel, V/H/S/85.
Ozzy’s Dungeon Stands Head and Shoulders Above Other V/H/S/99 Segments In All Its Weird Glory
Like any anthology movie, the segments are always hit and miss. As compared to the other V/H/S movies, however, there’s no clear stinker among the bunch. All five segments are decent enough to carry the latest sequel even as it creeps close to an unnecessary two hour runtime. But there’s an obvious winner in V/H/S/99 and it’s the middle segment, Ozzy’s Dungeon. Music producer, rap artist, and filmmaker Flying Lotus helms this demented ode to those equally strange 90s Nickelodeon kids game shows. In this segment, a disturbed family bitter after their daughter suffers a serious injury on a kid’s game show, take the former host hostage, forcing him to run through their own twisted version of the show’s obstacle course.
Expect to see some gross-out practical effects, particularly the gruesome injury suffered on the show set.
Simply put, Ozzy’s Dungeon is everything good about the V/H/S series. Take a creative filmmaker and give them free reign to experiment. And Flying Lotus delivers a delightfully weird segment that perfectly channels 90s kid game shows with some consistent menace lingering in the background. Expect to see some gross-out practical effects, particularly the gruesome injury suffered on the show set. Both Steven Ogg and Sonya Eddy are excellent as the smarmy game show host and disgruntled mom, respectively. That homemade obstacle course is equal parts hilarious and gross. And the conclusion is bizarre in all the best ways.
Suicide Bid Leads the Middle-of-the-Road Segments
None of the other V/H/S/99 segments come close to reaching the same heights of giddy lunacy as Ozzy’s Dungeon. But they all do a good job trading on some 90s nostalgia for a few good scares and plenty of impressive practical effects. Arguably, Suicide Bid is the scariest entry even if its story of a college freshman desperate to pledge the poplar sorority isn’t particularly original. Director Johannes Roberts (The Strangers: Prey at Night, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City) conjures up a handful of good jump scares from the inside of a coffin. If late 90s pop punk bands like Blink-182 were your thing (or if they grated on your nerves) you’ll enjoy opening segment, Shredding. Watching an undead riot grrrls punk band rip apart annoying online pranksters and wannabe rockers puts the gross practical effects to good use.
If late 90s pop punk bands like Blink-182 were your thing (or if they grated on your nerves) you’ll enjoy opening segment, Shredding.
Perhaps it’s fitting that V/H/S/99 ends with a segment tied to the Y2K New Year’s Eve. Written and directed by Vanessa and Joseph Winter, To Hell and Back finds two videographer best friends accidently dragged to hell during a demonic ritual. Though this is a found-footage movie, the Winter’s commit a visually creative and wild version of Hell to the screen. And the practical gore effects are amazing. All that holds this one back is an oddly abrupt, underwhelming finish.
The Gawkers – The Most Formulaic Entry – Likely the Weakest V/H/S/99 Segment
If there’s a dud in V/H/S/99, it’s The Gawkers, which also operates as the ‘sort of’ connecting fiber to the other stories. Instead, V/H/S/99 has a handful of stop-motion animation sequences of toy soldiers reminiscent of the Robot Chicken series. It’s those segments that lead us into this American Pie-inspired tale of obnoxious teen boys looking to spy on their attractive new neighbour. One of the teen’s nerdy little brother gives in to peer pressure and installs spyware on the unsuspecting woman’s new computer webcam. As expected, it all goes horribly wrong. While it’s not a ‘bad segment’, The Gawkers feels pretty perfunctory – there’s just no surprises here. And director Tyler MacIntyre (Tragedy Girls) takes too long and does too little with the finale.
V/H/S/99 a Step Backward, But Still Highly Entertaining For Series Fans
After last year’s strong V/H/S/94, Shudder’s V/H/S/99 feels like a small step backwards. There’s no outright downer of a segment. Even the middling stories have enough good stuff to keep this anthology afloat. And ditching the wraparound story keeps things focused. Anyone who appreciates good practical horror effects – or has a lot of nostalgia for the 90s – will enjoy V/H/S/99. Besides, Ozzy’s Dungeon alone warrants a recommendation for this latest entry to the V/H/S series. And next year’s proposed V/H/S/85 seems like the next step for the franchise.