The fourth instalment in the V/H/S series, set in 1994, begins with a skilled SWAT team making a raid at a warehouse. They make a major discovery, learning about a mysterious cult and a bizarre setup of recorded material on older technology, including VHS cassette players. The members will now view the multiple tapes, which will reveal a whole new type of horrific nightmares.
Those who have seen the previous films will generally know what to expect. This film has a basic plot that forces a group of unknowns to watch tapes (short films) that all differ from each other but have one main thing in common- horror. The real treat as an audience member is simply viewing each short film. The less you know going into this film, the more creepy and disturbing your experience will be.
If you’ve never seen a V/H/S film before, there is no need to stress. I’m happy to report that V/H/S/94 doesn’t require you to view any of the previous instalments as this film is telling a completely different story and contains new short horror films. The core of the film is the SWAT team, who are simply viewing one VHS tape at a time while also attempting to continue with their mission… well, until they find yet another tape. This process is repeated until the film’s final conclusion and reveals.
Creativity in V/H/S/94 is certainly pleasing. The film is filled with retro nods, which I found enjoyable. The picture quality is poor on purpose to give that authentic videotape look and feel. Moments that consisted of old commercials or news reports appearing unexpectedly was also fun to see, and I found it kept the film generally exciting and engaging. Performances here are cheesy, which is also to be expected. The performance quality almost matches what one might see in a video game.
Pacing is a questionable element, and honestly, I feel opinions on this matter will certainly differ. With different horror stories mixed into one film, it is unlikely that all short films will please everyone’s taste. I found two short film’s highly pleasing and entertaining. The remaining for me I found to be rather slow, uninteresting, or they overstay their welcome in the runtime department. The film’s introduction was also great, and I loved the unsettling mystery that gets introduced, but the final moments and ending was highly vague, weak and ultimately disappointing.
Overall, I truly enjoyed this film’s concept and all the retro vibes. Out of all the short films presented, there were a couple that I would class as highly entertaining and pleasing. As an overall film, there are moments where V/H/S/94 either dragged or felt slow and uninteresting. Naturally, this comes down to the personal viewing of each short film. The film’s beginning is also exciting and mysterious, but sadly, the ending doesn’t match the promised fun. In the end, there are aspects I truly enjoyed and adored and others, not so much. V/H/S/94 is Now Available on Shudder.