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V/H/S/85 review: Horror anthology series now more miss than hit
Photo: © ANP

V/H/S/85 review: Horror anthology series now more miss than hit

V/H/S/85 review: Horror anthology series now more miss than hit
Photo: © ANP

The latest release in the V/H/S series, V/H/S 85, follows the same template as the previous entries in the canon but at points it feels like we might be reaching diminishing returns. 

V/H/S, when released to a Frightfest audience in 2013, was met with thoroughly positive reviews, with the overarching narrative showing thieves breaking into a facility and proceeding to watch a collection of NSFW videos, creating a mini-compendium of stories. 

Even in the original some vignettes were stronger than others, and this is something that has followed the series through to this version, which follows on from V/H/S 94 and V/H/S 99 as the films look to lean into specific eras of horror and technology

And in V/H/S 85, the focus is very much on the grainy, handheld version of events, with blurry footage and taped-over content being the order of the day. 

The overarching story about a shapeshifting entity takes its time before reaching an inevitable conclusion, while Natasha Kermani's TKNOGOD, about an art installation star who falls foul of a virtual, God-like creature, feels as if it would have been more at home in either the 94 or the 99 versions rather than this. 

Gigi Saul-Guerrero's 'God of Death' follows the emergency responders to an actual Mexican earthquake which took place in 1985, and takes events to the thoroughly bizarre and macabre as it reaches its conclusion. 

But there is some horror heavyweight power involved here, and Scott Derrickson, who wrote and directed 2022's the Black Phone as well as 2012's Sinister, helms 'Dreamkill', in which scenes of the most grotesque violence in a home-invasion style are viewed via the perspective of the perpetrator. 

But the story goes much deeper when it it is revealed that a dark, hooded figure has been mailing videos of these murders to the police before they happen, leading to a bloodthirsty final act which isn't for the faint-hearted. 

Mike P. Nelson (Wrong Turn, 2021) also has a novel take on the zombie genre in No Wake, about a group of teens who go swimming in a lake only to be picked off one-by-one by a sniper, with the narrative neatly continuing into another part of the story. 

All in all, the V/H/S films have a lasting shelf life in that they are straightforward to produce and allow small kernels of horror ideas to be packaged together into a neat whole. While there isn't much here that the series hasn't done before, even in one of the weaker entries, there will be something to take away for the obsessive horror fan.

V/H/S/85 is available to view on Shudder. 


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