Rewind back to the 80’s with V/H/S/85 (Fantastic Fest 2023 Review)

V/H/S/85 - Courtesy Brigade Publicity
V/H/S/85 - Courtesy Brigade Publicity /

On Friday, September 22nd I was fortunate enough to get a seat at the world premiere of V/H/S/85, the sixth installment in horrors favorite analog anthology. How does it stand against what came before it? Read on to find out!

To start, the film takes us back… way back. V/H/S/85 is the oldest timeframe one of these movies has been set in. I’ll be honest, hearing that the next V/H/S movie would take place in the 80s had me excited but a tad worried that the film would fall into the trap of 80s nostalgia you see everywhere now, such as Stranger Things and IT just to name a few.

However, I was happy to see that the masterminds behind the flick set out to do the exact opposite. The film’s mean, chaotic, and violent. In fact I think this might have the most unique set of segments out of all the films. With an all-star writing and director ensemble, it’s no surprise each of them knocked it out of the park.

There are (technically) four separate segments in V/H/S/85, each roughly cut between one wraparound segment which I’ll be talking about last.

Kicking things off with Director Mike Nelson’s segment ‘No Wake’, this segment is probably the one that felt the most 80s. Nelson captures the 80s home video visuals perfectly, in something that truly feels like something you’d find on an old VHS at someone’s house. Nelson brings a classic horror trope with a captivating twist, and actually makes V/H/S history with the first two-parter segments – a segment so wicked it had to be torn in two.

V/H/S/85 still - Courtesy Brigade Publicity
V/H/S/85 – Courtesy Brigade Publicity /

Indie horror superstar Gigi Guerrero brings a chaotic and destructive story with her segment “God of Death” (what a title). Following various employees and first responders at a news station on the day of what at first seems like an intense earthquake. However as the story unfolds we find that out the cause of the destruction is something far more sinister.

When I spoke to Gigi on the red carpet and asked her what influences she brought in from her previous works, she answered that besides her much welcomed Latino representation and storytelling, this was a huge swing in a new direction. I’m happy to say that this swing is a home run, with disturbingly practical effects, rattling set pieces, and Gigi’s sprinkle of comedic writing amongst the chaos. In fact, this is probably one of the most memorable segments in recent installments.

Following that, Director Natasha Kermani helms the segment ‘TKNOGD.’ This segment is helmed by practically one actor, who absolutely kills it. Natasha’s cyberpunk tale follows a woman expressing her disdain for the technological revelations made throughout the 1980s (if only she knew), and thus calls upon the ‘techno-god with her hatred. This segment really nailed the style of a blackbox theater show given a retro 1980s twist, and once again the lead actress absolutely sells her anger.

The film also brings the talented duo Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill of Sinister and The Black Phone to play in the found footage sandbox with the segment ‘Dreamkill’. Derrickson helms a creepy, eerie, and ominous segment reminiscent of he and Cargill/s previous work together. A grim series of violent murders with a supernatural twist that left me captivated and wanting more.

Finally the films is wrapped up and interconnected through David Bruckner’s wraparound segment “total copy” which serves not only as a story but the interconnected piece between all the aforementioned individual segments in classic V/H/S fashion.  ‘Total Copy’ begins as an out of the ordinary science documentary, one you’d find while channel surfing late at night. David Bruckner perfectly captures this vibe through his wraparound, making it probably my favorite wraparound in the franchise with startling special effects, solid acting and an all around creepy story.

Overall V/H/S/85 takes big swings, and it pays off. What is without a doubt one of my favorites in the franchise just below V/H/S/94, the segments are messy, chaotic, and off-putting in all the right ways. If you’re looking for another piece of 80s slice of life nostalgia, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a mean set of found footage frights, you just might find it in V/H/S/85. The film is streaming on Shudder October 6th.

Did you get a chance to catch V/H/S/85 at its Fantastic Fest world premiere? What did you think! Let us know! If you enjoyed reading this review, check out some of my other articles and feel free to follow me on my social medias such as Twitter (JacobAtTheMovie), Instagram (JacobTheHarper), Facebook (JacobTheHarper) and Letterboxd (JacobTheHarper)

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