Plot: What’s it about?
I’d like to than the filmmakers of The Blair Witch Project, who essentially gave us the entire “found footage” genre. Don’t get me wrong, it’s produced some pretty interesting films over the years and I’m sure there’ll be more to come as the years progress. And, when I really think about it, it’s a relatively easy and cheap way to make a movie. Hell, the aforementioned title went onto do quite well at the box office on a minuscule budget. I think that the most “successful” franchise that’s utilized this new genre has been the Paranormal Activity films. I genuinely enjoyed them. But, in 2012, another franchise was launched with the straightforward title V/H/S. I’ve never seen it or any of its follow-ups. These films or “Video Horror Shorts” take four or five stories and cram them into a non-linear film. If you’ve seen Creepshow or Tales From the Darkside: The Movie, you’ll have an idea as what to expect. Ok folks, let’s get started because we’re going to party like it’s, you guessed it, 1999.
The first segment follows a “punk rock” band of stoners and high schoolers who find it amusing to constantly berate one another. We follow the group as they head to an old building where a band called Bitch Cat died being trampled to death during a fire. Breaking into the condemned building, the teens discover that they might not be the only things inside.
We meet a college girl who’s desperate to join the most popular sorority on campus. She makes what’s called a “suicide bid” (get it?) where her she has only applied to one sorority. She’s accepted and gets hazed in that she’s got to spend a night in a coffin, though things don’t exactly go as planned. Isn’t college fun?
If a creepy children’s show is what you’re after then look no further. Contestants compete to win their wish on this show and no one has ever won. That’s about to change, though this particular contestant has he leg broken while vying for the prize. We then flash forward where this contestant has her revenge on the host, by kidnapping him and making him compete in the same manner.
In this segment we follow a group of older teens as they try and spy on their neighbors, even going so far as to try and get upskirt videos. Things escalate when a lovely young woman moves next door and the boys start to obsess and try even harder to get her naked on film. The girl reaches out to one for some technical help and, well, let’s just say that like the other segments – things don’t exactly go as planned.
To Hell and Back
Probably the best of the bunch is the last. In this one we follow a couple of documentary filmmakers who tag along with some demon worshipers attempting to summon a demon. This takes place on New Year’s Eve 1999 and we see that the plan has succeeded and a demon takes the filmmakers as well as those performing the ritual to…Hell. We follow them as they try to get back to the land of the living.
Video: How’s it look?
As I noted above, I’ve not seen any of the other installments of this franchise. But after doing a bit of research, they all appear to use the same visual elements and that’s in place here as well. Even though DVD’s were out in 1999, VHS was still king of “portable media” and, as such, the entire film is presented in a “retro”-looking VHS format. Yes, if you’d missed the days of using tracking to improve the picture quality and seeing things like “SP” or “SLP” on the screen, you’ll likely shed a tear of things gone by. Or maybe not. Maybe you want your images looking clear and crisp. If that’s the case, this isn’t the movie for you. Presented in a 1.78:1 AVC HD encode, the segments look bad. I mean, like, really bad. It’s intentional and we all know that, but this isn’t the movie to show how crystal clear your 4K TV is. It’s hard to really assign a score as the images aren’t a fault of the Blu-ray, rather it’s how the filmmakers intended this to look. Enjoy.
Audio: How’s it sound?
An area where the film excels is the DTS HD Master Audio mix. While it won’t shake the room, it does offer a bit more on the technical level than the picture quality. Vocals are clear and clean with some pretty decent separation. Surrounds are fairly active as well. Given what we see on screen and what we hear from the speakers, it doesn’t really seem to flow but then again we’re watching a movie where people descend into hell. A certain amount of suspension of disbelief is expected.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Exclusive Panel from Reedpop’s New York Comicon – Pretty much what you’d expect, it’s a 50 minute look at the Comicon with several members of the cast and crew interviewed by members of the audience. Oddly, this is by far the best visual on the disc.
- Ozzy’s Dungeon – Two deleted scenes are shown from this one. Neither shed any new light on the subject matter.
- Shredding – We get one deleted scene as well as a music video – “Bitchcat.”
- The Gawkers – One deleted scene that, again, doesn’t really offer much as well as as few bloopers, some camera tests and “The Making of Medusa” in which we see the actress transform into our favorite snake-headed scream siren.
- To Hell and Back – We see some raw footage as well as how they found the particular location that was used for “Hell” along with some storyboards and rehearsal footage.
- Gag Reel – Pretty self-explanatory.
The Bottom Line
This one is a mixed bag. If you’re a fan of the V/H/S series of films, this one seems to rank higher than the first one, but lesser than 2021’s V/H/S 94. This isn’t a disc that will showcase the limits of your system, but given the subject matter it’s OK to go retro. A decent smattering of extras round this one out.