Combustible Celluloid
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With: Anna Hopkins, Christian Potenza, Kyal Legend, Donny Alamsyah
Written by: Jennifer Reeder, Chloe Okuno, Simon Barrett, Timo Tjahjanto, Ryan Prows
Directed by: Jennifer Reeder, Chloe Okuno, Simon Barrett, Timo Tjahjanto, Ryan Prows
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 104
Date: 10/06/2021

V/H/S/94 (2021)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Slay Nineties

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This surprisingly good fourth entry in the horror anthology series moves things forward in time, and achieves more advanced storytelling style, especially in the disturbingly relevant fourth tale.

A SWAT team enters a warehouse on a potential drug bust. Inside they find the remains of what looks to be a bloody cult ritual. We return to the warehouse in-between the other stories in the anthology. The next story follows a TV journalist, Holly (Anna Hopkins), as she descends into a sewer to investigate the legend of the Rat Man.

Next, funeral home employee Hayley (Kyal Legend) is left alone during a wake while a storm rages outside. Only one man shows up, and the unsettling nature of the evening is made worse when the coffin seems to move by itself. Then, in Indonesia, a mad scientist experiments on kidnapped victims to create a series of human-robot hybrids. Finally, a group of militant extremists plans to blow up a government building using a highly unstable and supernatural substance. Back at the warehouse, things are not looking so good...

While the V/H/S series initially combined the concept of telling scary stories with the thrill of viewing late-night forbidden movies on grungy cassettes, V/H/S/94 seems more evolved, more ambitious. With the exception of Simon Barrett — director of Seance and writer of You're Next and The Guest — the talent largely consists of up-and-comers, and they go all-out with inspired ideas, camerawork, and visual FX.

The Rat Man ("Storm Drain") and "The Empty Wake" episodes begin with endearingly old-fashioned set-ups, in a creepy sewer, and a dark funeral home, before they go bonkers with their surprising monsters. The "cyborg" episode ("The Subject") is just flat-out insane, the kind of over-the-top gorefest that horror hounds dare each other to see. The wraparound segment ("Holy Hell") is a little less enthralling, due to its extra-jerky camerawork, and its cast all wearing the same outfits.

But "Terror" is scary in more ways than one. Its monster attack is well-executed, but the real monsters are the main characters, exhibiting cult-like thinking in their narrow, violent beliefs. It's the most relevant of the segments. But don't miss the extra-short "The Veggie Masher," too, just for fun!

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