Blu-ray Review: Fright Anthology V/H/S/85 Delivers First-Rate Horror Moments

4 out of 5 stars

Anyone familiar with Movies In Focus will know that I’m not a fan of ‘found footage’ horror movies. Don’t get me wrong – some can be great – but they’re often substandard and use the format as a cheap gimmick to overcome poor filmmaking. However, I do like anthology films and enjoy the opportunity to see filmmakers with various styles playing with different forms of storytelling. So ultimately, the good outweighs the bad when it comes to Shudder‘s V/H/S franchise – and V/H/S/85 – the sixth film in the series – is the best instalment yet. 

Made up from short films by David Bruckner, Scott Derrickson, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Natasha Kermaniand and Mike P. Nelson, V/H/S/85 feels like the franchise has moved up a notch on the quality stakes. Like the other films, there’s a story that plays as a running interlude between each tale which ultimately pays off in the last segment (Total Copy). This follows a group of scientists studying a shapeshifting creature called, “Rory”. It’s a solid enough story, but far from the film’s best tale.

Things kick off properly with Mike P. Nelson’s No Wake. It begins with the age-old genre trope where a bunch of young people arrive at a lake for fun and frolics, but it takes a dark, nasty and then ultimately surprising turn by the end. This then pays off a few films later in Ambrosia – a tale of a family gathering that isn’t quite what it first appears. Both No Wake and Ambrosia show a firm grasp of not only horror cinema but also strong understanding of short storytelling, I was very taken by both films and impressed by Nelson’s chops as a filmmaker. I’ll be keeping an eye on his career moving forward.

Gigi Saul Guerrero’s God Of Death begins with an earthquake in a Mexican television station and moves from a claustrophobic disaster movie to hellish horror as the quake’s survivours attempt to escape the crumbling building. It’s a well-constructed tale that goes to unexpected places.

Natasha Kermaniand’s TKNOGD wasn’t for me. It looked good and was well made, but sadly I found the VR tale a soulless experience. Sometimes these things just don’t connect.

Scott Derrickson’s Dreamkill was the best of the bunch. An excellent horror-thriller that delivers the same home invasion terror as Michael Mann’s Manhunter. Written by Derrickson’s frequent collaborator, C. Robert Cargill Dreamkill has echoes of the pair’s excellent Sinister – and I could see the film working as a feature-length film which forgoes the found footage angle. Excellent. 

All-in-all, V/H/S/85 is an excellent horror anthology that delivers the goods. Sure, it might be a ‘found footage’ movie, but good filmmaking is good filmmaking and I ultimately have nothing but good things to say about it.