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All 31 Shorts in the V/H/S Franchise, Ranked




by Xtreme HD IPTV

The V/H/S franchise may well be one of the longest-running horror anthology film series ever, as of now. With a total of six entries and a seventh on the way, the franchise doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Starting back in 2012 with the eponymous title, the film opened to mixed critical reception, with five original horror short films by five different directors and a single wrap-around narrative tying them loosely together.

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Each short was made on a low-enough budget that, with a total film budget of $242,000, the film was a roaring success commercially, making $1.9 million at the box office. And so, the V/H/S empire began. The original film spawned five sequels, all produced by Bloody Disgusting, but the last three films, and their upcoming sequel are all co-produced and distributed by horror streaming platform Shudder.

With this list, we will be ranking every single short and wrap-around narrative from the perspectives of concept, execution, and overall impact. We’re assuming you have already watched all the movies, and if not: spoiler alert!

30 Holy Hell — V/H/S/94

A fuzzy image of three people standing in a room of TVs
Shudder

Starting off with V/H/S94‘s frame narrative, Holy Hell is a mixed bag of epic proportions. The film starts with an interesting enough idea: a satanic doomsday cult worships the TV as a kind of messianic figure, projecting horrible stories like evil versions of the Biblical books. By the midpoint of the movie, however, the narrative completely loses its steam and starts favoring the visuals over the concept entirely. At the end, we find out that two of the members of the SWAT team are part of the “drug bust” and are members of a snuff film group, who lay out their entire evil plan to the only remaining team member.

But For What Purpose?

The elaborate setup with the fake drug bust, the religious symbolism, and the fear of some unknown entity — in a franchise entry that is almost entirely devoted to creature-feature shorts, Holy Hell falls entirely flat once the evil monologue begins, and you realize the story isn’t all that deep. It’s just kind of stupid.

29 Shredding — V/H/S/99

A green spotlight shines on two broken singers onstage
Shudder

The opening short from V/H/S99, Shredding can’t seem to figure out what it wants to be. Is it a throwback to the ’90s post-punk/grunge scene? Is it about the latent racism that still lives in the American suburbia of the time? Is it just a shlocky ghost story? Somehow, it tries to be all of this, and achieves almost none of it. The ghostly band, Bitch Cat, seems closer to an all-girl punk group from the 2020s, than a hard-rocking 90s punk rock band. The prank videos definitely seem to aim for a Spike Jonze-style Jackass reference, but despite the strong opening, none of the band members of R.A.C.K seem particularly interesting or likable.

Too Long and Meandering with No Meaning

Considering their treatment of the only non-white band member, Ankur, the short seems like it wants to say something about racialized individuals having to assimilate into American whiteness, but even then it seems to flail. Not to mention the term bhut is inaccurate, both in its pronunciation (the word is bhoot, meaning ghost, spirit or apparition) and the means of expelling the entity — like a whitewashed version of an Indian concept that barely had any research done beyond the cursory Wikipedia search. The short is too long and too meandering to be of any significance.

28 Ozzy’s Dungeon — V/H/S/99

Steven Ogg as The Host in Ozzy's Dungeon
Shudder

Clearly a dig at Nickelodeon’s ’90s game show Legends of the Hidden Temple, V/H/S99‘s short Ozzy’s Dungeon starts out interestingly enough. Playing it like an entirely tongue-in-cheek reference, with the obvious hints of something more sinister lurking in the shadows (running through the titular Ozzy’s insides, and being granted a wish), the short takes a hard left turn when Donna breaks her leg in the last part of the challenge.

Unsatisfying and Inconsistent

What proceeds is a pretty shocking and disturbing mix of horror and black comedy, as her clearly psychotic mother subjects the host to a series of similar challenges, albeit much grosser, under the threat of burning his face off with acid. The torture seems to go on endlessly until the host relents and allows the family to meet Ozzy, but even when we’re faced with the horrors of this otherworldly entity, the film resorts to a kind of fuzzy shaky-cam ending, explaining very little and leaving us with an unsatisfying “everybody dies” ending that is inconsistent within its own internal logic.

27 The Gawkers — V/H/S/99

A vintage image of a young man on computer
Shudder

The Gawkers acts as the wrap-around narrative and penultimate story from V/H/S99, and unfortunately stumbles in both regards. Starting off as short clips about stories made up by the camera operator’s younger brother and his action figures, we eventually learn that the story is about a group of voyeuristic teenage boys, who use their video camera to spy on women in and around their neighborhood. Leaning into the casual sexism and sexual assault that was much more prevalent in the first three entries in the franchise, The Gawkers is pretty clearly a response to the kind of toxic masculinity and hyper-sexualization of girls that was rampant in the ’90s and early-2000s.

Awkward Execution of a Great Premise

Turning a story about perverts into a Medusa monster-narrative seems like a great idea on paper, but unfortunately the execution is awkward in its pacing to warrant any kind of positive response. The short does take an interesting look at the psyche of young men in the throes of manhood, and how impressionable boys can be pushed to commit sexual harrassment in order to become part of the “man club.”

26 Second Honeymoon — V/H/S

A close-up of Sophia Takal as Stephanie, wearing a clear plastic face mask
Magnet Releasing

Directed by Ti West of X and Pearl fame, Second Honeymoon definitely plays into his ideas of murders happening in desolate, barren landscapes, unforgiving on the mind and body. Though unlike his two successful features, this short from the original V/H/S unfortunately falls into some pretty problematic tropes. Over the course of the film, we see a straight couple on their honeymoon to visit The Grand Canyon, when a strange woman propositions the husband for a clearly romantic rendezvous.

After an intruder breaks into their hotel room and steals some money (also implying violence towards the wife), Sam, the husband, accuses her of stealing the money the next day. Finally, the intruder returns and kills Sam while he’s asleep, and the camera reveals the same stranger, now making out with Stephanie, the wife, implying they are lovers, and have planned this from the get-go.

Worn Out Tropes

Vacation murder aside, the evil bisexual trope is so worn by now, that the concept itself is laughable. If the ball drop moment is supposed to be Stephanie’s queerness, then the short doesn’t do a very good job of justifying why she married Sam in the first place. It’s a confused and tired attempt at shock, and overall pretty disappointing.

25 The God of Death — V/H/S/85

A maintenance worker crawls through a dark tunnel
Shudder

From V/H/S85, The God of Death is mostly kind of a muddled story that doesn’t seem to know where it’s going. Starting off with the newscaster segment, the short sets up an interesting idea with the rapport between the talk show host and her crew before the earthquake hits, but then immediately kills her off. For the rest of the film, we’re left with one of the camera operators, who trudges through the rubble as the area is rocked by multiple earthquakes. This sequence is both realistic and scary, but it takes a long time to hit its stride, and by the time we find ourselves in the cave of the titular God of Death, the resolution is neither scary nor satisfying.

Less Than the Sum of Its Parts

The God of Death himself is clearly a reference to an existing Mesoamerican deity, but his presence is minimal and ineffective, leaving the audience alone with a stuttering camera guy, spending his last moments in the cave. There’s also the matter of the unnecessary nudity, only because a woman character exists among the firefighters, so, all in all, this short is definitely less than the sum of its parts.

Related: Best V/H/S Segments Across The FIlm Franchise, Ranked

24 TKNOGD — V/H/S/85

A screen shows two hand and arms
Shudder

Another sort of filler story from V/H/S85, TKNOGD plays with an interesting idea of blending mysticism with early technology, especially at a time when we didn’t understand the digital world too well, but the film can’t seem to figure out where to go with it. Taking place over about 10 to 15 minutes during some sort of technological sermon for a digital God, the short spends most of its time meandering between low-resolution cubes in a pre-internet liminal space. The design of the Digital God is also a little underwhelming.

Too Much of a Slow-Burn

Taking some notes from the monster in V/H/S‘s Tuesday the 17th, there isn’t much to be afraid of this low-poly entity until it finally kills the digital priest in the last few minutes of the short. The main character’s death is memorable, and the people thinking it’s part of the presentation is funny, but it takes too long to get there, and the film doesn’t seem to have much of a point beyond that.

23 Suicide Bid — V/H/S/99

A camcorder image of a woman screaming
Shudder

We’re a bit torn about placing Suicide Bid so low on the list, when it is clearly the most effective one of the lot from V/H/S99. Taking place over a single night, the story is about a young girl who gets locked in a coffin overnight as part of a sadistic sorority hazing ritual, but ends up getting trapped in a shallow grave as it fills with rainwater during a thunderstorm. The horror works best when the story focuses on the claustrophobia inside the coffin: somehow the terror seems very real, and both personal and impersonal in a very ugly way.

Loses Steam Part-Way Through

Getting minors drunk and torturing them for fun is, unfortunately, part of the American University experience, and the story seems to lean into the tropes of rich mean girls who seem to have done this enough times for it to become some sort of game for them. Unfortunately, once the film introduces the ghost of Giltine into the story, the karmic ending loses a bit of steam, as the final nail-in-the-coffin ending for the four sorority girls can be easily read as Lily’s final revenge.

22 The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger — V/H/S

A screenlife image of a young woman on a video call with a shirtless man
Magnet Releasing

In terms of execution, The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger is definitely interesting, being one of the earliest examples of stories that take place entirely over video call — akin to the Unfriended movies — but the concept itself is a little hard to swallow for a couple of reasons. Stories that use women’s bodies as a way to turn the concept of pregnancy into horror have been done to death, and pairing that with the gaslighting Emily experiences from her boyfriend over the course of the film feels neither fun nor rewarding.

Women as Objects

In short, Emily video calls her boyfriend every day, and tells him about a strange bump in her arm that reminded her of an injury from when she was younger. Over the course of the story, she believes her apartment is haunted by ghostly children, but the audience later learns that they are aliens, and are using her body as an incubator for human-alien hybrids with the help of Emily’s boyfriend. The story only plays into tropes of seeing women as objects with little autonomy, and overall feels too mean-spirited to be enjoyable.

21 Tuesday the 17th — V/H/S

A young woman in a grassy field looks up at the sky
Magnet Releasing

Tuesday the 17th plays itself out like a generic found footage horror story for the most part. A couple of teens/20-somethings go to the woods to indulge in some revelry and are picked off one-by-one by some faceless killer that wants them dead. Despite the normal concept, the short does something interesting with the VHS format, by introducing a killer/monster that cannot be recorded on tape.

Cool Kills, but a Typical Slasher Concept

“The Glitch,” as it is called, then becomes a sort of invisible, unstoppable force that makes its way through our young protagonists, leading to some innovative kills with speed more akin to Call of Duty players with a high ping rate, than a slow Michael Myers type. That said, the story isn’t much different from your usual slasher fare outside the monster concept, and does little to tell itself apart from other slashers of its kind.

20 Phase I Clinical Trials — V/H/S

A close-up of a man looking into a mirror in a medical room
Magnet Releasing

This short can be seen as a spiritual precursor to the V/H/S94 short, The Subject, in the way it plays with the concept of the self becoming the machine, although both stories approach technology in wildly different ways. With Phase I Clinical Trials, the title is fairly straightforward about what audiences can expect: some sort of new technology that goes wrong because of its experimental nature. This can also be seen as a kind of microcosm of the first V/H/S film as a whole, as the story, like much of the original film, leans more into the idea of monsters and spirits being captured on camera than the obvious horrific implications of faulty technology and its effects on the body.

Falls Somewhat Flat

Overall, it’s nice to see Adam Wingard (of Godzilla vs Kong fame) in an acting role, though the concept is not too dissimilar from the horror movie The Eye, with Wingard’s character seeing ghostly spirits and apparitions in his field of vision. The idea feels more like a spooky campfire story for kids, and ultimately ends up falling a little flat.

19 Dreamkill — V/H/S/85

A woman lies dead in bed covered with blood
Shudder

An interesting take on the found-footage style, Scott Derrickson’s Dreamkill takes a page out of one of his early directorial entries, Sinister, and uses the same home-movie style to disturb and unnerve viewers. The concept of the story is also interesting: Gunther, an edgy teen and son of a police officer, sees murders happening in his dreams, which then manifest themselves on VHS tapes. These murders are all filmed from a first-person perspective, a la Sinister‘s disturbing homemade snuff films.

Style Over Substance

However, despite the unique story point, the short can’t seem to justify its existence as anything other than a Mentalist-meets-Sinister crossover episode. The reveal of Gunther’s father being the murderer is an interesting revelation, but there is little information about his visions and why they manifest in the way they do. Still, despite Derrickson’s repeated MO, the short is unique enough to stand apart from the crowd for the first two-thirds of its runtime.

Related: The Longevity of the V/H/S Franchise and Rise of Analog Horror

18 Total Copy — V/H/S/85

A grainy image of a faceless alien standing in a room of scientists
Shudder

Among one of the better wrap-around stories from the franchise, Total Copy is a great mix of unnerving, strange, and comedic, as it deals with a group of scientists who stumble across some sort of alien entity, and decide to name it and teach it our human customs — through the TV. The wrap-around has little to do with the rest of the shorts in the film, and acts much like a singular story of its own, but the grungy quality of the video footage, paired with the horrifying implications of teaching a sentient, faceless alien about humanity through daytime television makes for an amazingly entertaining time.

Offers an Interesting Allegory for Too Much Screen Time

When he finally breaks free and kills everyone in the facility, we see that Rory’s goals were never world domination or infestation, but recreating the group of dancers in a line with the mangled bodies of the science staff. There’s something darkly comedic about man’s folly, and how we can think we’re immune to a tiger’s bite if we become friends with it. Rory works as an interesting allegory for what can happen to a young un-molded mind when exposed to too much television.

17 Tape 56

A grainy image of a man in a hoodie inserting a VHS tape into its player
Magnet Releasing

The first frame narrative in the entire franchise, we can’t find it within ourselves to put this lower on the list — Tape 56 quite literally made history in the V/H/S franchise by setting the template and creating the narrative device upon which every other entry is based. Where most horror anthology films can often break up the stories into individual entries or separate chapters, Tape 56 takes the deliberate approach to integrating the VHS tapes into the frame narrative.

The Start of Something New and Exciting

What’s more, it has consequences built into each time the film cuts back to it, showing that we’re not just watching a clip show, but also that there are often disastrous outcomes to tampering with things you don’t fully understand. Despite being one of the tamest entries in the franchise, we have to give it up to this short for setting the precedent, and creating something totally unique for its time.

16 Tape 49 — V/H/S/2

A grainy image of a young couple sitting in a dark room together
Magnet Releasing

The frame narrative to V/H/S 2, Tape 49 can feel more like a rehash of the framing device from the first film than a new story of its own. But what’s interesting about this short is that it directly references Tape 56 as its predecessor, and implies that every short in this sequel is a leftover tape from the previous entry, creating a direct through-line between the two films.

Clunky, but a Satisfying End

The story can be a bit clunky at times, with Larry’s insistence on his girlfriend Ayesha watching the tapes one-by-one, but by the time the third story rolls around, Ayesha is dead and Larry is forced to watch the remaining shorts. The film also wraps itself up, and does a much better job of setting up a “VHS snuff film cult” than its V/H/S/94 counterpart.

15 Dante the Great — V/H/S Viral

VHS Viral Dante the Great
Magnet Releasing

We know this may be a controversial take, but upon rewatch, and with the benefit of hindsight, V/H/S Viral definitely does not deserve the kind of unanimous backlash that it received at the time. Dante the Great is the first of the three shorts in the film, and despite not being very scary, in terms of its ghosts and monsters, it does a great job of telling a story about the lust for fame and power in the internet age.

Innovative Use of th Documentary Format

The titular Dante is clearly an incel, who becomes mad with power once he gets his magical cloak, and the fact that he begins sacrificing his women assistants to feed his magic only speaks to the themes of insecure men in power using and trampling on women for their benefit. Dante never sees women as anything more than objects of his desire, having struck physical and romantic relationships with every single one of his assistants.

The film goes out of the way to explicitly show his misogyny when his final assistant, Scarlett, says she wants to become a magician, and he cruelly dismisses the thought. The short is also innovative in the way it approaches the story through a documentary format, and despite its limitations in visual effects, pulls off exactly what it set out to do.

14 To Hell and Back — V/H/S/99

A close-up of a burned and bruised young woman
Shudder

Perhaps the best story in the entirety of V/H/S/99, To Hell and Back does everything it’s supposed to with picture perfection, and without wasting a single second of screen time. When a demonic summoning ritual goes awry in the basement of a suburban home, two videographers find themselves trapped in Hell, and have to make their way out with the help of a particularly playful (if dangerous) entity called Mabel the Skullbiter.

Tense and Hilarious All at Once

Produced by the same team that made the superlative Deadstream, this short is tense and hilarious in equal measure, with extremely likable characters and a surprising best friend arc that you wouldn’t expect from an entry within the V/H/S franchise. Despite the failings of the larger film as a whole, this short does a great job at keeping the viewer engaged, and even makes you root for everyone to get a happy ending. Definitely one of the best shorts to come out of the franchise.

13 10/31/98 — V/H/S

A grainy image of three men in an attic
Magnet Releasing

Continuing on the horror-comedy train, 10/31/98 is another super fun entry in the V/H/S franchise, and one of the lighter segments in the first film. When a group of friends makes their way to the wrong haunted house on Halloween night, they start to experience real-life horrors, and bumble their way through them, while trying to help a girl they think is being held there against her will.

A Genuinely Hilarious Short

The concept alone makes for such a fun idea, and the execution of it goes along so well that you can’t help but have fun with the film, as the main group of boys slowly discover the horrors haunting the house may be more real than they initially thought. The idea of a group of friends walking in on an actual exorcism and chanting along like a bunch of frat bros at a football game has so much comedy laid into it that we can’t help but enjoy this short for the story it presents.

Related: 25 Horror Movies That Tricked People into Thinking They Were Real

12 Parallel Monsters — V/H/S Viral

Two half-naked men and one woman cozying up on a sofa
Magnet Releasing

A great blend of science-fiction and horror, Parallel Monsters is considered by many to be the best entry in V/H/S Viral. When a scientist creates a portal to a parallel Earth in his basement, he decides to switch sides for 15 minutes with his doppelgänger, to experience the other side. But what he finds has much darker implications under the surface.

Catholic Horror at Its Finest

The film does a great job at getting the audience to like the main character of Alfonso, and once we, along with him, begin to notice the minor but terrifying ways in which this mirror-Earth is different from ours, we’re just as frantic for him to get out as soon as possible. A very innovative concept with the idea of man being created in the image of Satan, the film definitely plays into religious horror and the implications of an unjust God and the cost of discovery.

11 Bonestorm — V/H/S Viral

A first-person shooter game-like image of a hand firing a gun
Magnet Releasing

Most definitely slept on by fans of the franchise, Bonestorm is like a Jackass film if the crew went to a haunted ritual site. Extremely believable as a film shot by a group of youngsters, the chemistry between the two main skaters is perfect, with their friendship radiating strongly through the screen. There may not be too much to the concept of the film, but so many horror stories deal with young people finding themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We Were All Kids Once

Bonestorm does a great job of taking you back to your own teenage years, where some things seemed worth the risk. A really fun story with just enough hints at the larger mythology that keeps you guessing, this one deserves a revisit from every fan of the franchise that may have written it off.

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by Xtreme HD IPTV

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