V/H/S/99 is the fifth instalment in the long-running V/H/S series, which has come some way from being an anthology showcase for many of the key horror directors of this century, such as Ti West (Pearl, X, House of the Devil) and Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest and Godzilla vs. Kong), before they went on to bigger and better things. The most notable director involved is Johannes Roberts, who has made a few biggish studio films, and if you have Shudder, you may have noticed Tyler MacIntyre’s film Tragedy Girls—he also directs a segment.
The film is comprised of five segments, all set around the end of the millennium: hence the title. The ’90s were an apocalyptic time, with the Waco siege, Heaven’s Gate suicides and fears of Y2K on the horizon. It wasn’t until September 11th 2001 that the apocalyptic trajectory of the ’90s arrived at its inevitable conclusion. Sadly, this instalment of V/H/S never really plays into those anxieties, which feels like a real missed opportunity.
The most enjoyable segment—for me at least—was actually the first, Shredding, where a young punk band who like to pull pranks and get up to no good decide to film a music video in a former music venue. The venue had burned down in an electrical fire that claimed the lives of a riot grrl band called Bitch Cat. You can totally see where this is going, but it’s a fun segment, and out of the five it was the only one that seemed to try to look like something from the ’90s.
The rest are hit and miss, but mostly misses: two are kind of riffs on late-’90s teen movies, and not the good ones! There is a pretty dire take on ’90s game shows, which does have a committed performance from Grand Theft Auto V‘s Steven Ogg as the asshole host. However, it’s nearly 30 minutes long, which is ridiculous. The final segment is probably the second-best. It’s set on New Year’s Eve and involves a coven of witches. This entry removed the wraparounds that are reportedly a staple of the previous V/H/S films, instead just using short stop-motion animations of toy soldiers as the connective tissue between the segments.
I can’t say that I’m going to be rushing out to check out the other segments anytime soon, except maybe the first, due to the horror royalty involved. If you’ve liked the previous entries of V/H/S, you will probably enjoy the latest one. However, if you are wary of found-footage horror, you may want to stay away. Although I did like the some of the VHS-era aesthetic throughout, they could’ve played with it more.
The film debuted on Shudder last year and was reportedly its most watched premiere in 2022, so it certainly connected with many. The Blu-Ray includes an interview panel, deleted scenes, bloopers and more, which I’m sure fans of the film will get some fun out of it. A sixth instalment, V/H/S/85, is already in the can.