Not rated for no reason outside of the fact that it was not released in theaters. Listen, it would be R. Normally, I don't try to speculate. There's lots of gore, violence, and completely unnecessary nudity. If I had to make anything say "Hard-R", but not "NC-17", it's this. It's a horror movie that often uses violence to shock. Still, since there is no rating, I have to maintain that this is still in the blue font category.
DIRECTORS: David Bruckner, Scott Derrickson, Natasha Kermani, Mike P. Nelson, and Gigi Saul Guerrero
Come on, V/H/S franchise. I used to say that you were the franchise to follow. Henson's big on these horror movies. Years ago, I watched the first two V/H/S movies and thought that they were doing some amazing things with the found footage subgenre. But since the franchise moved to Shudder (a streaming service that I have only seen when watching with Henson), these anthology movies just feel rough. I know that there was talk that V/H/S/85 was a return to form and super fun. I don't know, man. A lot of this just kind of felt like a burden. It's not like the whole thing was awful. There were moments when I was having a good time. But the reality of the situation was that these segments look cheap and felt like they were aimed at the lowest possible denominator.
Anthology movies are tough to write about, especially when they are directed by different people. You want to judge the work as a whole because there's connective tissue between all of these segments. But I also know that it is almost unfair to judge individual elements because they are with the lot. I'm just being fair. I'm being fair. Also, how would you write about anthology movies? Exactly.
"Total Copy" -Okay, this is one of the more successful ones. I think part of what makes V/H/S work as an anthology (which is why I got more annoyed by V/H/S/99) is that it is almost a time capsule from the era. It's not perfect. None of them are perfect. But I think that "Total Copy" hits the mark of what Fox during the '80s and '90s looked like. Like, it feels like this could have been a real expose on a trash news show. I mean, it's absurd that this would be covered, but that's not what is being argued. This is a horror anthology and our brains have to shut down. Now, I'm so torn by the end of this scene. "Total Copy" is the big one that is the connective tissue between the scenes. It's broken up. We actually get a sense of time passing. There's something to invest in, which is kind of impressive for an anthology segment. The actual monster is a little undercooked. It's supposed to be this shape shifter, but I spend a lot of time not really knowing what I'm looking at. There's a scene --and I laughed a bit at this --that the monster Rory is shapeshifting into Gary. Gary is annoyed at this because he's just being oppressed by a job that he hates. But the thing is...it didn't look like Gary. I don't know how that worked. I know that we were supposed to make the connection, but I was put out that we should have had a Gary double. Honestly, the shapeshifting element is rough in this. It almost has nothing to do with the story. If anything, this is a story about a monster that mimics, like Doctor Who's "Midnight". That's the story. The joke is really funny at the end, but also kind of takes the bite out of an effective climax. So I'm torn. This might be the best of the group.
"Dreamkill" -This is the Scott Derrickson one? This is a professional director. His is probably the biggest name on the roster and this movie just looks bad. I went into this tirade with Saw: The Final Chapter. If you don't give people money to make movies properly, you can't be mad when the movie looks bad. Part of this really feels like Scott Derrickson didn't care about this. It's almost like he's above making movies for this streaming service. Everything in this feels like a shortcut and uninspired. The most red-flaggy thing in this movie is the costumes. It felt like everyone had to dress up with their own clothes to hit an archetype. It's got a bit of community theater to it. The cop from the '80s looks like a Halloween party costume. The goth is just lazy. He doesn't look like the '80s. It's really hard to take him seriously, considering that he's the crux of the storyline. Also, that scene would be significantly cooler if that was a nine-year-old boy. The goth thing seems like it is just trying a bit too hard to be successful. Also, one of the few things that the segments really tried to do was to look like it was filmed in the '80s. The nightmare sequences don't look like anything. They look like Nine Inch Nails music video sequences. There's a filter over the whole thing. The story is uninspired and everything just looks bad. The guy coming into the police station covered in blood? No one stopped him? Just so much of this feels lazy.
"TKNOGD"- This is as close to unwatchable as it got. It's bad when you have to take what is fundamentally a short film and cut it down to a TikTok concept. There's a weird irony to the whole thing that the protagonist of this segment is putting on an insufferable show and that tongue-in-cheek moment actually translates to the whole segment. We get it. The protagonist is preachy and kind of untalented. But we were meant to sit through an intentionally bad theatre production, which loses its charm quickly. I think almost all of the segments in this movie suffer from lacking plot, but "TKNOGD" is perhaps the worst. We're watching this play just waiting for something bad to happen to her because of her hubris. Even when the digital monster comes after her (a monster that is criminally underdefined), it almost lacks any kind of punch because the character has made herself so unlikable. Also, I don't really get what the creature is meant to be. Why is it targeting her? Also, there's a joke that I called from the beginning right at the end. But the funnier version of that is that only one person would have clapped. That's the funnier bit and I'll die on that hill. It's just that this isn't even a story. It's a stinger. It's the beginning of something that should be deeper. Right now, the entire story is "Girl rallies against technology and then the technology kills her." She's not a person. She's an excuse to unload on a corpse. It's almost depressing to watch it.
"No Wake / Ambrosia" -Okay, this one almost won me over. V/H/S actually let two stories play out in segments and this one mostly worked. In terms of that time capsule stuff I was talking about, this one does a lot of it right. But when it's wrong, man is it wrong. I went around pointing "good" "bad". I, too, can be insufferable. If it was only "No Wake", I would have called shannanigans. But I knew there had to be a follow up. The "Ambrosia" segment is what really sold me. I don't know how the RV kids found the Cult of the VII. I don't. I asked. It made no sense. There's some screwy logic in terms of really selling this entire thing as a revenge plot. Why keep them alive? I mean, luckily, the family has a rule of not being taken alive. But the RV kids wouldn't have known that? Either way, I like the notion of a family of serial killers coincidentally having a high concept separate horror movie going on nearby. It's pretty gnarley. There were times that I screamed at the screen. For example, when the zombies point out that this was no way to live, a character does something gross out to stress how absurd their condition was. But it also looks like they're not going to be able to heal anymore, so maybe don't make such visual examples of your decay?
"God of Death" -I'm so torn on this one. The one thing I'm confident about is the absolutely unnecessary nudity in this one. Horror's gotten better than this and that was absolutely stupid. I think the character's name was Karla. I rooted for Karla so hard. There's some weird logic again. Like, why did Karla have to kill the guy with a crowbar? What was that all about? But Karla holds the team together and powers through an earthquake only to become possessed? Okay, there's some rad concepts here. I like the idea of waking an ancient god which is the cause of all of that death. I like the news segments and the trapsing through a news building. What I kind of don't like is how bad the caves looked. Man, that was some community theatre nonsense. Also, I'm really having a hard time coming to grips with sensationalizing a real tragedy. Like, that was a real earthquake where lots of people actually died. It felt very "sensationalize Katrina" of this segment. It just all kind of felt in poor taste. Performances and little moments? Great. Everything else...blech!
This has become one of those franchises where I've seen so many of the entries in the series that I almost feel shackled to them. It's been a while since I enjoyed it, yet I keep coming back. I know that there's better stuff out there.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.