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Film Reviews

V/H/S/85 (dir. by Various Artists) 

80.0
Score

Pros

  • Great references to the 1980s via commercials and in character comments - Loved the Macho Man one.
  • If you watch closely, you'll notice Gigi Saul Guerrero's Dad in her segment.
  • Derrickson & Cargill are at it again, with Ransome to boot. It's a Sinister Reunion!
  • Both "No Wake" and "Ambrosia" really surprised me.

Cons

  • The shaky cam takes some getting used to.
  • Depending on where you stand religiously, there may be some triggers here. Devil / Old gods elements, etc.
Cinematography
8
Plot / Story
8
Acting / Casting
8
Music / Sound
8

Final Verdict

If you can deal with the shaky cam, V/H/S/85 is a good watch. It's nothing extravagant, but you can tell that everyone loved or enjoyed what they brought to the screen. What it lacks in jumpscares, it makes up for in "Whoa, crap!" moments.

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Halloween 2023

The full list of directors for Shudder’s V/H/S/85 includes David Bruckner (The Night House), Gigi Saul Guerrero (Bingo Hell), Scott Derrickson (The Black Phone), Natasha Kermani (The Imitation Girl), and Mike P. Nelson (2021’s Wrong Turn).

I’m not completely familiar with the V/H/S series. I stopped after the very first one, with the “I Like You” segment rattling me enough to never want to delve into that found footage mayhem again. It only caught my interest because Scott Derrickson (and by extension C. Robert Cargill and Gigi Saul Guerrero were involved. Cargill and Derrickson have worked together since Sinister (as far as I know). Guerrero’s Bingo Hell was a fun watch, as horror films go. While the found footage format still bothers me when used in large doses, the effect here really makes sense. You’re working in the 80s, pre-cell phones and most major technology. Home movies were common back then as well.

The format for the film is similar to most horror anthologies (like Tales From the Darkside), where there are 4 or 5 mini tales and another that you see in between those. David Bruckner covers the main story with “Total Copy”, where a strange specimen in a lab is kept under close study. Of all the stories in the group, this one really didn’t hold me very well, though it does work well as filler between the other, stronger tales.

Mike Nelson’s “No Wake” starts us off with a camping trip to a nearby lake. Despite discovering No Trespassing signs, the crew of young adults set out for a nice time in the water. This ends up becoming rather treacherous and the result leaves them wanting to take revenge on their perpetrators. It was a strange and refreshing take on a familiar tale that I liked, though it was somewhat short.

We move on to Gigi Saul Guerrero’s “God of Death”, which I enjoyed. This tale follows a cameraman during an earthquake in Mexico, as a rescue crew tries to evacuate a collapsing building. Guerrero is in this piece as the reporter, Gabriella, and if you watch close enough, you’ll see a picture of her father on one the walls, looking like the Mayor of the town. I thought that was sweet. There’s quite a bit of blood and gore, as much as Shudder likes to give.

Natasha Kermani’s “TKNOGOD” was the only one in the series that I didn’t care for. Not that I was bothered about the argument of God vs. Technology, but it felt more like those slam poetry sessions you find in Manhattan. I understand what it was trying to convey, and it does get somewhat chilling. Still, I kind of glossed over it and waited for the next entry. It was filmed well, at least. That I will give it.

“Ambrosia” brings us to a family reunion and celebration, though the family itself might not have the best intentions at heart. This one surprised me a bit and I liked the connection to earlier events.

And finally, we have a Sinister reunion of sorts with Director Scott Derrickson, writer C. Robert Cargill, and actor James Ransome (Deputy So & So himself) in “Dreamkill”. Working in a similar vein to Sinister, Dreamkill focuses on some deadly murders occurring in a town that also happen to be recorded on home video before the events take place. A detective (Freddy Rodriguez, Grindhouse’s Planet Terror) tries to piece together the clues before more victims are lost. This was the best of the bunch, by far, I felt.

Overall, if you can handle the shaky cam of the V/H/S films, 85 is a treat. While I personally wished some these weren’t using the cam, the film finds a way to keep the floating camera in the picture. It’s an interesting set of scares if you have the time to watch.

Series NavigationAt Midnight I’ll Take Your Soul (dir. by José Mojica Marins) >>

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