V/H/S/99 Review


PLOT: Five terrifying tales are unearthed on a VHS tape that hasn’t been watched since 1999.

REVIEW: Like all anthology films, V/H/S/99 is a mixed bag. It contains five separate stories, and as in every movie in this franchise, some are great, and some are mediocre. However, to the movie’s credit, none of the stories are bad, meaning that V/H/S/99 adds up to a pretty solid addition to the franchise.

Two of the stories are brilliant. My favorite, by a long shot, is the second one, Suicide Bid, written and directed by Johannes Roberts, who did 47 Meters Down and Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City. In it, Ally Ioannides plays a sorority pledge eager to be liked. Her would-be sisters decide to play a prank on her, burying her alive in a coffin, only to abandon her when cops show up, intending to return later to dig her up. Of course, it rains, and when they go back for her…well…

With Roberts alternating perspectives from inside and outside the coffin, it proves to be a deeply unsettling little story, with an outcome worthy of Creepshow. The other most consistently notable instalment (To Hell and Back) is from Deadstream’s Joseph and Vanessa Winter, which follows two hapless videographers taping a Y2K ritual who find themselves transported to hell. There are some nifty, practical creature effects in this one, including a very endearing performance by Melanie Stone as a witch named Mabel.

The other V/H/S/99 segment folks will likely be talking about is Flying Lotus’s Ozzy’s Dungeon, which Is a take-off on the slime-filled Nickelodeon game shows that were all the rage in ’99. This one is a mixed bag. The first half of it, which plays out like a game show episode, is terrific and anchored by a wonderful performance by Steven Ogg as the “wacky” Jim Carrey-esque host. However, it gets stale once it reverts to the traditional found-footage style, with the energy being sapped out once it becomes all too typical.

The other two stories are hit and miss, with a segment by Tragedy Girls director Tyler MacIntyre (The Gawkers) featuring some horny kids who get a well-deserved comeuppance that’s relatively entertaining and a decent riff on how tone-deaf teen comedies of this era could be. The first instalment (Shredding), by Blumhouse alum Maggie Levin would probably benefit the most from being expanded into a feature, with it being a tale of undead Riot Grrrls that chugs along too quickly and ends just as it gets interesting. Indeed, this isn’t unusual for an anthology film, with specific stories just suiting the format better than others.

To give V/H/S/99 credit, there are no stinkers in the bunch, even if certain segments like Ozzy’s Dungeon are frustrating because they come so close to being great. The found footage aspect is overcooked at this point. I wish more instalments had focused on the “taped broadcast” style Ozzy’s Dungeon initially experiments with before scrapping the technique to become more conventional. While made for Shudder, V/H/S/99 played well on the big screen at TIFF, and specific segments, especially Roberts’s claustrophobic second story, actually benefitted from the theatrical experience. It’s too bad the only way people are likely to see this in theatres is through a festival screening, but if you get the opportunity to see it this way, it’s a fun midnight movie. Once it hits streaming, V/H/S/99 is an easy one to recommend, as even when segments drag, you likely won’t be tempted to fast forward to the next one. Some a good, some are mediocre, but none are all-out bad.




About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.