The Daily Stream: V/H/S/94 Is A Great Way To Start Your Month-Long Halloween Movie Marathon

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Movie: "V/H/S/94"

Where You Can Stream It: Shudder

The Pitch: The "V/H/S" series returns with "V/H/S/94," a new installment that once again presents us with a series of "found footage" entries mocked-up to look as if they were shot on video decades ago. The wraparound framing device involves a SWAT team busting into what they assume to be a drug lab. Instead, they find remnants of cult activity and a series of videos showcasing strange, potentially supernatural footage.

Why It's Essential Viewing

I love horror anthology films. Unfortunately, they don't always love me back. I guess what I really love is the concept – not just one horror story, but several, all in one package! But the end result is often hit-or-miss. Time and time again, a new horror anthology film will arrive, and it'll feature one or two really memorable segments and then the rest will be junk. And don't even get me started on horror anthologies that try to shoehorn a "funny" segment into the mix (stop that immediately, horror anthologies).

So I approached "V/H/S/94" with some trepidation. I didn't love the previous "V/H/S" films, primarily because they were so wildly uneven. But I'm pleased to report "V/H/S/94" is much more successful. Don't get me wrong – it's still a little lopsided. But not to the point where the movie becomes a disappointment. The framing device with the SWAT team feels entirely unnecessary, and, if I'm being honest, stupid. But the segments themselves are full of creepy charms.

"Storm Drain," directed by Chloe Okuno, follows a reporter investigating claims of a giant rat monster lurking around the sewers. There's some great creature effects here, and plenty of gross-out gore. That said, it doesn't quite stick the landing. However, the follow-up segment, Simon Barrett's "The Empty Wake," is a slam dunk. It's the best entry here – a slow-burn that builds plenty of dread as a funeral home employee is tasked with watching over a wake during a terrible storm. Mourners fail to show up as the night progresses, creating a creepy atmosphere that's only heightened when strange sounds start eminating from the closed coffin. This is old school gothic stuff rendered on fuzzy video, and I wanted it to go on even longer.

Something For Everyone (Who Likes Horror)

Timo Tjahjanto, who co-directed the fantastic "V/H/S/2" segment "Safe Haven," directs "The Subject," the grossest of the "V/H/S/94" entries. This is a tale of science gone wrong, drawing on "Frankenstein," "RoboCop," and more, as we find ourselves watching the interior of a mad scientist's lair. While I'm a big fan of Tjahjanto's work (his ultra-violent action flick "The Night Comes For Us" absolutely rules), I have to admit that "The Subject" let me a little cold. Finally, "Terror" is a clever, if slightly overlong, segment that embeds us with a right-wing militia that is planning an attack using a surprising weapon. I won't spoil what that weapon is, but I will admit that the way the story slowly unfolds and dishes out info is fairly clever.

Again: "V/H/S/94" is not without its drawbacks. I would've cut the wraparound story with the SWAT team entirely, and maybe shuffled around the order of the titles ("Terror" doesn't feel strong enough to me to be the last segment). But beyond that, "V/H/S/94" is loaded with thrills, chills, and old-school gore. Occasionally, some digital blood finds its way in here, which is always disappointing. But there's plenty of practical effects, too, and they lend a certain low-fi charm to the whole endeavour. If you're a sucker for horror anthologies, and in the mood for a wide variety of stories in one neat little Halloween candy bag, you're going to want to watch "V/H/S/94" on Shudder as soon as possible.