Witness a hellish vision of 1999, as social isolation, analog technology and disturbing home videos fuse into a nightmare of found footage savagery.
Firstly, I need to preface this review with a little disclaimer: I’m a huge fan of horror shorts and of horror anthologies in general. The bite-sized servings of gore and guts are often the musings of feature films in their infancy or the work of the next big name in horror. Granted, some shorts are terrible, but I often find myself pleasantly surprised and thoroughly entertained.
I’m also a huge fan of the V/H/S series in general, with my favourite segment being from the original 2012 production, “Amateur Night.” I suppose that I was not alone in absolutely loving that short as it eventually got its own feature-length film in 2016 entitled SiREN. While the film received mixed reviews, I personally adored the raucous creature feature and it really solidified my love for the V/H/S films in general.
Now, maybe it is due to my higher-than-normal expectations for 99 that I was somewhat let down by the film. I mean, I vividly remember 1999 as that was me at age 16, pretty much as nuts as the teens in this film and acting just as recklessly. This was meant to be my kind of film: My favourite genres and my tastes in horror all neatly wrapped in a packaging of personalized nostalgia, right? Then why was I so bored throughout the film?
The first short is what is meant to be some kind of punk rock take on Jackass, where the kids involved do dumb pranks and unusual antics. It’s weird because it has more of a modern, social media vibe and is not really something that kids back in the 90s did—film themselves for views. YouTube wasn’t even a thing yet and no one really got to see your VHS tapes. The short itself was fine but it missed the mark for me thematically.
The second is a hazing ritual with an urban legend. This one was pretty good as hazing was definitely still a thing in the late 90s and I went through some rough initiation for high school. It’s just how things were done back then. This was probably the best of the shorts and that really isn’t saying much.
The third is a hyperbolized take on the infamous “Takeshi’s Castle,” and if you don’t know what that is, go have some fun on YouTube. It’s a tale of revenge by a previous contestant and her family on the gameshow’s horrendous host. This was probably my least favourite short as the whole thing was just overdone. No subtlety or nuance, just over-the-top revenge porn with little in the way of plot.
The fourth was probably the smartest of the bunch; a clever play on invasion of privacy, voyeurism, and the objectification of women as little more than objects of sexual desire. This was probably the most accurate when it came to the life and times of the late 90s, with that group of boys reminding me way too much of my friends and I and the things we’d get up to. It not only hit home but made me feel a bit like a creep—so I guess the film was successful in what it set out to do.
The fifth and final segment is absolute madness from start to finish; you will either love it, hate it, or suffer absolute indifference as I did. I suppose it’s just some silly, gory fun but I was not—at all—impressed.
And there you have it; an absolute mixed bag of mediocre short films that left a lot to be desired. Like I said, I have enjoyed all of the other entries in the series and perhaps I had raised that bar just a little too high. Maybe I was expecting champagne when I should have settled for Coca-Cola. Either way, there are for worse ways to spend a haunting October evening so if you have enjoyed the film’s predecessors, give this one a watch and perhaps disagree with me in the comments. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. The trailer and artwork are below. V/H/S/99 premieres Thursday the 20th of October only on Shudder.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.