The V/H/S franchise has always been one that scratches an itch for me, being the only really prevalent medium for multiple short pictures as opposed to one coherent movie. Up-and-coming names in the horror genre have made their name in these movies, and I’m very glad to say that after the stumbles of “V/H/S: Viral,” we’ve found ourselves on the right track. For this review, I’ll be taking these film by film, so let’s get at it!
“Holy Hell” — Written and directed by Jennifer Reeder
The film’s overarching narrative. As far as V/H/S films go, this is pretty alright, but isn’t exactly what people are coming here to see. The rapport between the SWAT officers is quite fun in a generic gruff cop kind of way, and the transitions to the films proper are quite clever.
“Storm Drain” — Written and directed by Chloe Okuno, “The Veggie Masher” — Directed and edited by Steve Kostanski
An Ohio news crew is making a story on their city’s fabled Rat Man, a half rat half man cryptid living in the titular storm drain under the streets. As is usually the case for these types of films, they get a whole lot more than they’re looking for in the sewers. Outside of the occasional jump scare and the hammy acting (but that comes with all of these films,) this one is quite well-paced with a satisfying bit toward the end that I won’t spoil here. Hail Raatma!
“The Empty Wake” — Written and directed by Simon Barrett
A young woman is tasked with overseeing a wake during a thunderstorm. The casket keeps finding itself misaligned, and there seems some kind of knocking from inside? Well, the mortician says that it’s just gasses expanding, so I guess we don’t have anything to worry about! This is probably my favorite of all these segments; It’s very well paced, and the creature at the end is an absolute delight to see.
“The Subject” — Written and directed by Timo Tjahjanto
An Indonesian scientist is bent on creating the first machine-human hybrid and is willing to get subjects by any means necessary. Just as he’s on the brink of success, the police arrive and shoot up his laboratory. However, two of his subjects have turned out to be successes — a girl with a machine gun arm and a towering figure with swords for hands. The films’ limited budgets really show their limits here, but I can’t say that it really makes it any worse or better. Still a fun ride!
“Terror” — Written and directed by Ryan Prows
A group touting themselves as the saviors of America, the First Patriots Movement Militia, look to start their great crusade by blowing up a government building in Detroit — but not with a bomb, exactly. This is the only film that makes an effort to look like it was made in 1994, but I don’t say that to disparage the other films. I quite like this one as well; It really takes its sweet time, but once the pedal hits the metal, you’ll know it. It really ends with a bang!
All in all, this is about as good as you’re going to get with a budget that in total probably doesn’t even break a quarter of a million dollars. The creature effects are top of their class, and it’s really a testament to the talent behind the camera that we get these quality films with the restrictions they were given.