‘V/H/S’ Franchise: Ranking All of the Segments & Movies
The V/H/S franchise is the premiere horror anthology of its generation. Since the original’s debut in 2012, the movie spawned five sequels, one spinoff, and a Snapchat miniseries.
V/H/S 99 is the latest of those sequels to arrive from Shudder, with another expected to arrive next year. The anthology followed a found footage theme before it began incorporating specific years into the mix in 2021. Doing so injected new life, as well as new horror directors, into the franchise.
“I feel like V/H/S stakes a claim and really kicks off horror filmmakers in a special way,” says V/H/S 99 director and series newcomer Maggie Levin. The original movie alone is known to be the launching pad for current mainstays like Ti West (X, Pearl), David Bruckner (The Ritual, The Night House), and Adam Wingard (Blair Witch, Godzilla vs. Kong), to name a few. “I was very aware that I was entering a legacy of groundbreaking horror filmmaking.”
Levin, who directed V/H/S 99’s opening short film, “Shredding,” despite being attached to the project, is just as big a fan of the decade-spanning franchise. And as we discussed how she was approached to direct and the inspiration behind her story, we also discussed some of her favorite moments throughout the franchise.
In celebration of the release of V/H/S 99, TV Insider ranked every short from the original anthology, as well as V/H/S 2, V/H/S: Viral, V/H/S 94, and 99. Then after that, we ranked each of the five films overall. [Editor’s Note: We’ve omitted the Siren spinoff, the miniseries, and the framing narratives of each film.]
Every V/H/S Short, Ranked
V/H/S 99 (2022)
5. “Suicide Bid”
Freshman Lily is desperate to join her college campus’s most prestigious sorority, she allows them to bury her alive, recreating an urban legend of another girl that did the same thing. It’s sorority girl hazing. Is the theme of this anthology the 90s, demons, or cliche bully tropes? Even though being buried alive is my greatest fear, I didn’t feel claustrophobic watching this as I do with any other buried alive scene.
4. “Ozzy’s Dungeon”
This exploitive Legends of the Hidden Temple-esque game show has an interesting premise where if your win the game show, you’re granted a wish. The obstacle course is a great metaphor for the Belly of the Beast, and the turn of tragedy to revenge horror is fantastic. The cast that makes up the family torturing the game host is also very authentic. Although they want revenge for their little girl getting mutilated, they don’t revel in torture, it makes them squeamish. We love producer Flying Lotus as a beatmaker and director, and hopefully, this paves the road for a feature film horror flick.
Directed by Levin, this short focuses on bandmates Rachel, Ankur, Chris, and Kaleb (RACK) — who record their daredevil stunts and shock value antics for their online fans. Unfortunately, when they record their music video inside a haunted music venue, they’re attacked by a band of spirits called Bitch Cat. “I’ve always wanted to do a ghost rock band,” she admits.
“We were talking early on about CKY and early Jackass days, this idea of prank videos. And then how that kind of intermingled with skate culture and punk rock music. And so I really kind of went for all of those things at once. And I wanted also to try a story where I got to present villains as heroes and then heroes as villains.”
Disrespecting the dead will grant no rewards, and it was satisfying seeing everyone perish. “It’s a classic horror trope of “f–k around and find out.”
2. “The Gawkers”
Back to hazing, except now it’s dude-bros. A teen boy’s camera is stolen by his older brother so he and his friends can spy on the new girl next door. This addition felt the most 90s, and there’s such degenerate “teen discovering the internet” activity going on from the characters. There’s a mean older brother with anger issues that you think will turn villain, but the short subverts expectations when the woman they’re peeping on turns out to be a Medusa monster. It’s almost the best punishment for a voyeur to receive
1. “To Hell and Back Again”
During New Year’s Eve, documentarians are unwittingly hired by a cult to record a summoning ritual. Unfortunately, the spell backfires and sends the duo to Hell, where they meet a tortured soul named Mabel, who helps them battle several creatures on their adventure back to earth. The setup is quick and efficient, Mabel is awesome, and the two buddies aren’t too bad, either. Which effectively makes their victory turn to ash in your mouth once it’s all said and done.
V/H/S 94 (2021)
4. “The Empty Wake”
At Jensen Funeral Home, a young woman named Hailey is assigned to host and record a wake for a man named Andrew Edwards. Only one person, Gustav, shows up, and after uttering an incantation in Hungarian, he abruptly leaves. Then stuff starts to happen.
A homegrown militia of crazy country folk from the woods get their hands on vampire blood and intend on using it to create a bioattack and “get their country back.” It goes horribly wrong, they never even make it off their property, which is pretty humorous. It’s an interesting premise, for sure, one that we’ve never heard before. The originality alone makes it a welcomed addition to the anthology series.
2. “The Subject”
A creature feature with first-person action superior to Hardcore Henry and on par with other fast-paced action flicks like Upgrade. A cyborg story turned body-horror action, this short puts you in the perspective of the monster you root for her when the police attempt to kill her because she only wants to live. And it displays the authorities, the would-be saviors in this scenario, as the true monsters. The short relationship she develops with one of the officers is also heartwarming.
1. “Storm Drain”
A reporter is hellbent on solving the urban legend of a Rat Man living in the sewers of her local town abducting people. When she and her cameraman get down there, she faints trying to help the homeless before being taken herself. It’s revealed that all the missing people now worship Raatma, a grotesque half-human/half-rat prosthetic masterpiece that allows the woman to live, unlike the camera guy. This is a creepy one that stays with you, just as Raatma stays with its victims.
“I read the script for that one before it was filmed, so I remember reading that, and I was like this is this is something really special, just on the script level, it was already clear how terrifying that was gonna be,” Levin said before revealing a few easter eggs from Shredding that connect the two stories.
“There’s a “Hail Raatma!” on the wall in Bitch Cat’s rehearsal space. And then kind of when we get into the colony underground, my production designer set up some cans and a sleeping bag that are emulating what she [saw] when you first enter the storm drain in.”
V/H/S: Viral (2014)
3. “Parallel Monsters”
A scientist figures out parallel universe travel and decides to explore his counterpart’s world for 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the other universe is an Opposite World, and demonic religion is the norm. His parallel wife tries to do a sacrifice with two other worshippers, and they turn out to be demons. It’s a lot, and it could have been one of our favorites if the story had unfolded differently.
L.A. skateboarders try to record cool skating videos, but the videographer keeps raising the stakes in hopes they die, and he can sell a snuff film (what a creep). They end up in a flood channel and once a drop of blood is spilled on the ground, robed cultists, skeletons, and demons appear, and the skaters must fend them off by any means necessary. It’s cool, if not a bit too long.
1. “Dante the Great”
It may not have any scares, but that doesn’t take away from its quality storytelling. Not only does this short have an interesting premise, a degenerate magician possessing magic powers, but the special effects are bonkers. Plus, the final fight gives some Hollywood movies a run for their money.
V/H/S 2 (2013)
4. “Slumber Party Alien Abduction”
This one deals with an alien invasion, and it’s done uniquely. The invasion goes down on a lakeside property among a group of friends. Although the found footage aspect here feels a little shoehorned, the alien scares are legit.
3. “Phase I Clinical Trials”
A guy got into an accident, gets a haunted eye, and starts seeing dead people that interact with him in frightening ways. It culminates, and the guy forcibly removes the eye from his socket but is too late to stop the murderer’s ghost from shoving the electronic eye down his throat. It’s a cool short from director Adam Wingard, and you can see why studios began trusting him with projects like Blair Witch and Death Note.
2. “A Ride in the Park”
Eduardo Sánchez and Gregg Hale from the original Blair Witch Project from 1999 direct this one, and the DNA from that film is all over this short. A cyclist heads to the park after a disturbing call from his girlfriend. Turns out, he just rode into the center of a zombie virus breakout, where he must fend the monsters off until he eventually becomes one. The switch of perspectives from protagonist to one of the antagonists is handled well, it puts you into the shoes of an undead creature in ways we’d never seen before this.
1. “Safe Haven”
A film crew attempted to infiltrate an Indonesian cult for their documentary. A man named “Father” is in charge of the institution, which holds school children, nuns, and other cultists. In the middle of their interview with Father, the “time of reckoning” arrives, and everyone begins mass suicide. It’s then discovered that a woman is giving birth to something in the basement. Whenever we think about the V/H/S franchise, the horned demon featured in this short is what sticks out. The entire short is mesmerizing and will lock you in once the action jumps off.
Even Levin, when picking out her favorite franchise entries, wanted to avoid choosing Safe Haven “because it’s…it’s the best.”
5. “Tuesday the 17th”
A woman lures a group of guys as an offering to The Glitch, an invisible lake murderer that previously killed her friends. It’s as if The Predator was a pickpocket with a switchblade. But then the plan backfires, and she immediately regrets her decision.
4. “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger”
This is the precursor to several webcam/social media horror movies that focus on the screen within screen scares, which is a great, updated premise for the found-footage subgenre.
It’s snappy, funny, and scary, a signature mark from Radio Silence, a collective of directors responsible for Ready or Not and the recent Scream.
2. “Second Honeymoon”
The story follows a married couple documenting their traveling during their honeymoon. But it stops being romantic once a stranger breaks into their room and films themselves having their way with their sleeping body. The end reveal is fantastic, in the short taps into the voyeurism aspect of horror very well, and the second-hand sense of betrayal comes through to the audience.
“That sort of taps into some personal deep fears,” Levin admitted about one of her favorite shorts. “Somebody coming in and messing around with me when I am asleep is one of the reasons why I don’t sleep.”
There’s also a fortuneteller aspect attached to the story that plays with fate, a theme that can be seen within director Ti West’s latest X trilogy.
1. “Amateur Night”
“David Bruckner’s original short that kicks off the entire series with the siren” is one of Levin’s favorite shorts.
“[It’s about] getting what’s coming to you. [She’s also an] unusual and, I think, iconic girl monster. I love a girl monster which I think you can tell in my short!” and “those really practical effects are so well done, that’s something that he’s continued to do in his later films that’s just extraordinary.”
It feels authentic and gets authentically uncomfortable as the lead dudebro tries to have their way with a woman he and everyone around him deem “not of sound mind.” When it eventually turns out she’s a siren, everyone gets what they deserve. The transition from pretty girl to nightmare monster is handled masterfully as well. And for the cherry on top, it has an incredible closing shot. It’s a great exploitation horror story you hardly get outside of the 70s.
Every V/H/S Movie, Ranked
5. V/H/S: Viral
Although it has one of the greatest shorts in the franchise in Dante the Great, this installment almost killed the franchise before Shudder and Bloody Disgusting teamed up for 94.
A great installment of the franchise that shows V/H/S’ revival wasn’t just a fluke.
The entry that brought the anthology series back. It garnered a new fanbase and brought lapsed fans back into the fold.
The one that started it all and began the trend of setting a path for future horror directors to become great.
This is the one everyone always talks about, and for good reason. The series cemented itself as one of the best horror anthologies of all time thanks to all the compelling shorts offered here.