By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Found-footage horror anthology has visceral shocks, cursing.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
One of the stories, "The Gawkers," warns against objectifying women, spying, and invading privacy; it's a great cautionary tale. Other stories, like "Shredding" and "Ozzy's Dungeon," are also cautionary tales against poor behavior, but they're more traditional revenge stories. "Suicide Bid" is mostly a "be careful what you wish for" tale, and "To Hell and Back" is, really, just a bunch of stuff that happened.
The movie is heavy on White male characters, but some stories include diverse representation. "Suicide Bid" is women-led, and "Ozzy's Dungeon," prominently features a Black family. "The Gawkers" focuses on teen boys, but actually sympathizes with the female object of their gaze. Women and Black characters are prominent in the remaining two stories.
Inclusion information: Black directors, Black writers
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Violence & Scariness
Extreme blood and gore. Characters are torn limb from limb. Child with mangled leg. Characters are ripped open by monsters. Blood spurts. Body parts flung at wall. Guts spattering on the floor. Fighting demons with staffs and pitchforks, stabbing, blood spray. Severed heads. Bloody corpses. Entrails. Gross stuff on game show (raw meat, poop, etc.). Zombies, demons, ghosts, and other monsters. Face-burning. Human roasting on spit. Hand caught in trap. Scary stuff. Jump-scares. Scary noises. Claustrophobia. Spiders. Maggots. Stabbing. Bottle of acid. Stepping on glass barefoot. Hypodermic needle held to eye. Screaming. Vomiting. Smashing stuff, pranks, vandalism. Beating up sex dolls filled with fake blood. Toy soldiers crushed, severed, etc. Skateboard wrecks. Broken arm. Dialogue describing brutal fire, women being trampled and burned.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Topless woman. Teens attempt to shoot an "upskirt video." Teens spy on a female neighbor who sunbathes and washes a car while wearing "short-shorts," etc. Prank involves drawing a penis on a man's forehead. Sexual gestures. Strong sex-related dialogue. Sex dolls. Women in revealing clothing. One removes her shirt to show a bra. A giant, mutated monster has what appear to be naked female breasts. Man flexes in front of mirror.
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Extremely strong language: "f--k," "motherf----r," "shut the f--k up," "s--t," "bulls-t-," "a--hole," "p---y," "t-ts," the "N" word, "goddamn," "bitch," "ass," "hell," "damn," "oh my God," "d--k," "shut up," "stupid," "idiot," "Nazi," "crackhead," "boner," "perverted," "creep," "pimp." Middle-finger gestures.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
College-age characters drink/get drunk. Brief smoking. Spoken references to crack and heroin.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that V/H/S/99 is the fifth movie in the V/H/S series of found-footage horror anthologies. Like some of the others, it's a bit uneven, but the stronger stories help make up for the weaker ones. Extreme violence includes lots of blood and gore, characters being torn limb from limb, monsters (zombies, demons, ghosts), fighting, gross stuff, jump-scares, claustrophobia, mean pranks, scary stuff, shocking imagery, etc. A woman is seen topless, and there's sex-related dialogue, sexual gestures, objectification of women, sex dolls, a drawing of a penis, and more. Language is also very strong and nearly constant, with uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "bulls--t," "a--hole," "p---y," "t-ts," the "N" word, "goddamn," and much more. College-age women are seen drinking and drunk, there's brief smoking, characters make references to crack and heroin.
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What's the Story?
V/H/S/99 is an anthology of shot-on-video, found-footage horror tales. In one, a rock band descends into an underground club destroyed by fire to learn more about a band that perished there. Then, a young woman pledges a sorority but must face a ghoulish initiation prank: spending the night in a coffin and possibly summoning a ghost. In another tale, the host of a disgusting and impossible game show faces the wrath of the family of a contestant who became permanently injured while playing. In a wraparound sequence, a boy makes bloody home videos with his toy soldiers, until his older brother snatches the camera back and uses it to spy on an attractive neighbor. Needless to say, he goes too far. Finally, two filmmakers capturing a demonic ritual find themselves transported to the underworld. They only have until the stroke of midnight, the year 2000, to make it home again.
Is It Any Good?
While less ambitious than its predecessor, this uneven but decent fifth entry in the found-footage V/H/S anthology series offers enough shocks and brutal creativity to make it worth a look. V/H/S/99 starts with its weakest entry, "Shredding"; it feels like the rock band is almost asking for trouble by playing pranks and disrespecting the memories of the people who died in the fire. What happens is a foregone conclusion, and there's not much surprise here. Directed by Johannes Roberts, the sorority tale ("Suicide Bid") effectively preys on two of many people's deepest fears -- not only being buried alive, but also drowning, as a torrential rainstorm descends upon poor trapped Lily (Alexia Ioannides), and it's a tense ride. The game show sequence ("Ozzy's Dungeon") is mostly just brutal revenge, and pretty disgusting besides.
The wraparound videos with the toy soldiers and narration by young Brady (Ethan Pogue) are delightfully hilarious, and the way the films transitions from that into the story of the voyeurs ("The Gawkers"), directed by Tyler MacIntyre, is very clever. This is the anthology's most powerful story, showing teens disrespecting their neighbor not only by spying on her but by objectifying her, too. The payoff is swift and satisfying. Directed by Joseph and Vanessa Winter, the final segment in the underworld ("To Hell and Back"), featuring bickering filmmakers and a helpful demon called Mabel (Melanie Stone), is the most impressive, creating a vivid, visceral, otherworldly feel with just a few resources. That's three out of five wins in this collection, which isn't bad -- but even the other two have memorable spooky/icky moments.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about V/H/S/99's violence. How did it make you feel? Was it exciting? Shocking? What did the movie show or not show to achieve this effect? Why is that important?
Is the movie scary? What is the appeal of horror movies? Why do people sometimes like to be scared?
In "The Gawkers," what was questionable about the teens' behavior? Did they deserve their punishment? Why, or why not?
Some of the stories have revenge as a theme. What is the nature of revenge? Does it solve anything? Why can it be so appealing?
- On DVD or streaming: October 20, 2022
- Cast: Alexia Ioannides, Steven Ogg, Ethan Pogue, Joseph Winter, Archelaus Crisanto, Melanie Stone
- Directors: Flying Lotus, Maggie Levin, Tyler MacIntyre, Johannes Roberts, Joseph Winter, Vanessa Winter
- Inclusion Information: Black directors, Black writers
- Studios: Shudder, Bloody Disgusting
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: May 8, 2023
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