FILM REVIEW: V/H/S/94 (2021): A few segments ate my tape.
Check and check.
The VHS effect is strong here but wavers throughout the entire film.
Welcome to VHS and one of the most annoyingly spelled movies titles of recent memory. Trying to do a search can be tricky for obvious reasons on this one. This is an anthology horror series. We're into part 4 and I suppose that's one of the main reasons for 94 in the title? All of the segments appear to take place in 1994 to go along with the aesthetic.
The SWAT team weaves all these segments together. In this case they're storming the warehouse but this isn't the last time you'll see them.
We need some sort of bridge between all the segments and this time it's in the form of a SWAT team that has raided a warehouse. This was being used by what seems to be a doomsday cult. Televisions, vcrs and vhs tapes running with all the occupants dead inside. Each segment from here on out blends into what I would call the main segments. This is the general structure of the film. Each segment is directed by a different director so the credits on this film can get extensive.
Nothing beats the local news and their stories. I can hear our protagonist giving the cameraperson an earful about this segment in the storm drain.
A story about a reporter and their cameraman searching for a local oddity called the Rat Man. They find something in those sewers but it's not what one would think. Hail Raatma baby!
The title of this segment is apt and there's not much to it either.
The Empty Wake
An employee is left alone at night in a mortuary home and asked to record the entire wake even with nobody there. The casket starts making strange noises, probably the body settling her boss explains. A strange man eventually shows up to the wake and upon leaving says some strange words. This doesn't remain quiet for long after this.
The crazy doctor trope is here which makes it fun for the audience but not so much for those in the film.
An Indonesian tale all told in Indonesian with subtitles provided for your preferred language. A mad scientist tale about fusing man and machine over many different experiments using many varying subjects.
Those pesky militias are up to things again. You won't believe what they have in store for you this time. It's not what you think.
An extremist militia group has in their possession the ultimate weapon. They want destroy a government building to take back America and show their might. What the weapon is and how it will be used is a huge mystery until it isn't.
As with most anthology films there are hits and misses. The hits for me were Storm Drain and Terror.
This sketch is a masterpiece. I'm not sure if I'd call it amateur either.
Either way this isn't something I'd like to run into wandering around in a storm drain. Is it real or embellishment? We eventually find out the answer to this.
I can relate to wandering around in storm drains or hearing strange otherworldly noises coming from them so this hits close to home. Terror is all too real and reminded me of the Oklahoma City bombing at least initially.
The Empty Wake was largely uneventful and the shot composition was dreadful given the setting. A funeral parlor only has so many interesting shots you can wring out of it. Nothing much happens until the segment is over and watching someone essentially twiddle their thumbs is no fun for the viewer.
The Wake did nothing for me. They can't all be winners I suppose.
The Subject I couldn't connect with. The mad scientist angle is interesting and the segment does go into what I would consider the goriest and bloodiest segment overall. Something did not work and the language barrier and subtitles were not the issue. I'm not sure, not for me.
The SWAT bridge between all episodes was alright and provides its own story arc. I was not expecting to know where I would end up and I enjoyed the ride along with all these differing tales.
Based on the soft image and grain you could safely call this shot on VHS. These militia folks love their big guns.
The presentation of the film is superb. Tracking errors, a soft image and wavy lines. A VHS tape can get this way after repeated viewings and due to age but I don't remember it ever being this bad. I was wondering if they shot this on actual VHS to add to the vintage feel. Apparently not, it was shot digitally but transferred to tape with multiple playthroughs to achieve the desired effect. I was curious as a standard grain filter and image manipulation seemed a little too authentic on this film. Kudos to them for going the extra mile, I'm sure I'm not the only one that noticed.
This looks something more akin to a videogame than something coming out of 1994. The Subject segment stands out like a sore thumb.
The only segment that did not fall within the VHS look to me was The Subject. Cg was often the issue here and you can tell it looks differently especially in the stills of the film.
This iteration is miles ahead of the previous sequels, there was one I saw and I can't remember which entry but it was truly awful. Barely watchable so I was extremely hesitant in watching this new entry. As mentioned previously, this has its good and bad segments. Almost unavoidable in an anthology series. I hope they can keep this momentum going, the effort is on screen for us all the enjoy or run from.
The nice thing is discussing the segments you like with those that have seen it. Terror and Storm Drain for me in case you missed it the first time.
Thanks for the read 🙂
All media captured by myself from the original source