VHS 99 Review

After laying dormant for a few years, Shudder’s wildly successful revival with 2021’s VHS94, we skip forward half a decade for the next slice of the horror franchise. Five new retro tales of terror are on offer, featuring a prank-loving punk band, a mysterious sorority with a nightmarish hazing ritual, a disgraced game show host, and a very literal trip to hell and back.

Of the five stories on offer here, my favourite is “To Hell and Back; infused with the same manic energy of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead, this literal journey to hell and back is crying out to be given a standalone spin-off like Siren and the recent Kids vs Aliens. Written and directed by Vanessa & Joseph Winter (the latter also stars as Troy), this creative duo are ones to watch; their recently released feature Deadstream landed on Shudder last Halloween and is worth checking out.

While the found footage sub-genre of horror has been overused to the point of wearing thin, VHS 99 finds some inventive ways to inject energy into the slightly tired format. Ever since The Blair Witch Project landed on the scene at the end of the 90s and Paranormal Activity revived it in 2007, found footage has continued to be a mainstay of the horror genre.

Quietly over the last decade, VHS has become a formidable horror franchise, spawning five movies, two spin-off features, and a sixth instalment is due on Shudder later this year with VHS 84. The forthcoming 80s set sequel will feature stories directed by David Bruckner (The Night House), Natasha Kermani (Lucky), Gigi Saul Guerrero (Bingo Hell), and Scott Derrickson (The Black Phone, Doctor Strange).

I’ve loved horror anthologies since I first saw UK cult classics like The House that Dripped Blood, Asylum, and many more when I was perhaps a little too young for them. Essentially, if it’s a horror anthology, I’m there. Unlike fellow horror anthology franchise The ABCs of Death, VHS has proved to be as robust and durable as its namesake. Even without a wraparound story, this fifth instalment of the series is fun, gore-soaked, and just a little bonkers.

VHS 99 is out now on Blu-ray and DVD.



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