We present a class of display designs combining holographic optics, directional backlighting, laser illumination, and polarization-based optical folding to achieve thin, lightweight, and high performance near-eye displays for virtual reality. Several design alternatives are proposed, compared, and experimentally validated as prototypes. Using only thin, flat films as optical components, we demonstrate VR displays with thicknesses of less than 9 mm, fields of view of over 90◦ horizontally, and form factors approaching sunglasses. In a benchtop form factor, we also demonstrate a full color display using wavelength-multiplexed holographic lenses that uses laser illumination to provide a large gamut and highly saturated color. We show experimentally that our designs support resolutions expected of modern VR headsets and can scale to human visual acuity limits. Current limitations are identified, and we discuss challenges to obtain full practicality.