V/H/S/85 (2023). Review by Steve Kirkham


V/H/S/85 (2023)

3 stars
Acorn Media International. A Shudder Original. DVD, Blu Ray and Digital 4th March

I have to admit I am at a loss why they continue to make these movies, but I guess they must have their fans (and Shudder need content to fill their schedules)… give me a Amicus portmanteau any day of the week. But here it is… another hit or miss collection of shorts from various filmmakers, though it think this one is more miss than hit.

The wraparound – ‘Total copy’ from writer/director David Bruckner (who worked on the original release) is about a strange unknown alien/person/organism. Scientists are studying him/it to find out more about them and their abilities. Has a slightly touch in cheek ending and is intercut with the other segments but overall feels slight.

First up is ‘No Wake’ from Mike Nelson – a bunch of friends go out to the lake to mess about in a boat and try out water skiing, ignoring the sign that says ‘No Swimming’ – something deadly happens. Has the classic found footage annoyance of somebody still filming when they should either be helping out, or getting the hell out of there. Goes nowhere!

Story two is Gigi Saul Guerrero’s ‘God of Death’. Mexico 1985. A morning tv news programme with Lucia de Leon (Gabriel Roel) at the news desk in the studio. Gabriela Maldonado (Gigi Saul Guerrero) is reporting on location at a building complex… then an earthquake hits. Just about justifies continuing filming despite circumstances, as it’s a news outlet. As the survivors try to escape something is uncovered due to the seismic activity and things get bloody and freaky. Quite effective if very shaky.

Next up is Natasha Kermani’s ‘TKNOGD’. A solo female performance artiste rails against the fact that technology is the new god in her stage presentation. She shows a film with a guy demonstrating VR goggles – and she then proceeds to don the same type of gadget and things go awry – but is it part of the performance. Will you care?

Mike Nelson is back with ‘Ambrosia’. A big party – Ruth is the latest in her family to celebrate a long running, odd and deadly tradition – something related to VII which all her other relations have tattooed on them. Inconsequential and unsatisfyingly oblique with the usual found footage, terrible, wobbly camerawork.

Scott Derrickson brings us the intriguing and gory ‘Dreamkill’. A detective on the scene of a brutal and bloody murder thinks he has seen it before on a video tape that they were sent some time ago – which he thought was a staged killing and not real. Then it happens again at another crime scene. How is it possible? One of the better stories here in this fairly disappointing addition to the series.

Much of the footage throughout the film is framed at 4×3, as it would have been back in the day and random scenes are sometimes inserted into the various stories, as if this was all taped onto a previously used VHS. Clever? Or annoying? None of the shorts presented here are particularly successful in delivering either scares or twists in the tale.

Steve Kirkham