Ah, 1985. A time of big hair, even bigger shoulder pads, and the rise of the VCR. It was only inevitable that all those mullet-sporting dads that insisted on bringing the camcorder with them on every trip would eventually record something horrifying (and we’re not talking about your elementary school pageant show). V/H/S/85 brings that analog terror to life in the newest installment of the now annual horror anthology. Happy Halloween y’all. It’s Found Footage time!
Kicking this macabre mixtape of horrors off is David Bruckner’s Total Copy, serving as a loose wraparound story, and presented as a taped-off-tv documentary about a mysterious entity that is being fed an abundance of media to better understand humanity. One of the stranger segments of the entire V/H/S franchise, Total Copy doesn’t quite work as a traditional wraparound but builds slowly to an out-of-this-world finale.
“V/H/S/85 shows that the found footage is still ripe for original storytelling.”
Scott Derrickson’s, known for his mastery in creating spine-tingling atmospheres, doesn’t disappoint with Dreamkill which presents a dark & surreal mix of POV murder set pieces and police procedural investigation tapes. The less known about this one the better but it does contain some of the most chilling “found footage” of the bunch. Fans of those f*cked-up tapes in Derrickson’s Sinister will especially dig the grim, nightmarish quality of this one.
Gigi Saul Guerrero’sGod of Death takes a seemingly innocuous news report and sends it straight to hell. Akin to found-footage all-timers As Above So Below and [Rec], God of Death is a rough-n-tumble race for survival in the aftermath of an earthquake that reveals something dark hiding in the rubble of a Mexican news station. Fun performances and on-point wardrobes are a huge highlight this short, bringing some very welcome 80s kitsch to sprinkle on top of a savory shaky-cam dish.
Natash Kermani’s “TKNOGOD” is equal parts performance art and- uh…Lawnmower Man, exploring the emergence of computer technology in the mid-80s. The lead, a stage performer at the final mounting of her one-woman show decries our godless move toward a technologically obsessed future but finds only Fear and Trembling at the altar of an evil 8-bit VR Prescence. If only every confrontational spoken word showcase had this much blood & guts!
Mike Nelson’s “No Wake / Ambrosia” weaves a grim, almost too-close-for-comfort story about a group of horny college kids (essential ingredients in almost every 80s horror story) attacked by a sniper after disobeying the “DO NOT SWIM IN WATER” warning at a remote lake. This segment was full of surprises and takes some unpredictable turns. One of the more inventive segments in recent years and easily one of the standouts of the entire collection.
“…a meaner and more grim entry in the franchise”
Surprisingly, V/H/S/85 is a meaner and more grim entry in the franchise, especially compared to some of the horror-filled hijinks of last year’s V/H/S/99. This installment plays a little fast and loose with the idea of each segment being traditional “found” footage but shows that the subgenre is still ripe for new storytelling, and that bit-sized 20-minute anthology shorts are (as always) one of the absolute best ways to enjoy a good old fashioned scary story. And with Halloween season fully upon us now, who doesn’t want to enjoy a little fun-sized dose of terror.
V/H/S/85 directed by David Bruckner, Mike Nelson, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Natasha Kermani, and Scott Derrickson hits Shudder Oct 6th. Let us know what your favorite segment of this new found-footage anthology is over on Twitter, Threads, Facebook, or in the official Nightmare on Film Street Discord!
[Review] V/H/S/85 Delivers Another Camcorder of Horrors For The Halloween Season
V/H/S/85 is a meaner and more grim entry in the franchise, especially compared to some of the horror-filled hijinks of last year's V/H/S/99. This installment plays a little fast and loose with the idea of each segment being traditional "found" footage but shows that the subgenre is still ripe for new storytelling, and that bit-sized 20-minute anthology shorts are (as always) one of the absolute best ways to enjoy a good old fashioned scary story.
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