V/H/S 2 (aka S-V/H/S)
Directed by Simon Barrett (segment "Tape 49") Jason Eisener (segment "Slumber Party Alien Abduction") Gareth Evans (segment "Safe Haven") Gregg Hale (segment "A Ride in the Park") Eduardo Sánchez (segment "A Ride in the Park") Timo Tjahjanto (segment "Safe Haven") Adam Wingard (segment "Phase I Clinical Trials")
If you're a frequent reader of this blog, you'll know I gave the original V/H/S 3 spinkicks. Most of the shorts were good in my opinion and though a little muddled, they showed what the next generation of horror directors could do with a slick collaboration.
I went into seeing VHS 2 knowing it had critical acclaim and one can only wonder if that seeps into the unconscious when reviewing a film. I'll be the first to admit I tend to get influenced by the Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic rating. But hell, I went against that when I praised VHS.
So now after seeing the sequel, I'm in a place I was before. It's a solid anthology that delivers a taste of the mild, the hardcore and the fantastic. What you get with this collaboration is a film that edges the original just based on originality, blood and guts and more amped up WTF. Found footage in VHS 2 is just the wraparound. The 1st person forced perspective is the next evolutionary step and here we see it utilized well and not so well.
Clearly we get a mixed bag but the pure ingenuity in some of these shorts must be graded on a curve. Kudos to Bloody Disgusting Brad Miska for producing and delivering a reemergence of the anthology.
Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his house and find collection of VHS tapes. Viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be dark motives behind the student's disappearance.
Well here be some mini reviews of each segment and a letter grade for each. Shorts are listed in the order as they appear in the film (though I think I'm forgetting the order now)
Tape 49/frame narrative (Simon Barett)
The private eyes segment starts with boobs in your face but is usually the weakest of the inter spliced shorts. Clearly better than the first wrap around in the original, it's your standard VHS tape spookiness with some clear The Ring influences to get your jump scares.
Phase I Clinical Trials (Adam Wingard)
Again my excitement stemmed from getting my Wingard fix in VHS 2. A man with an eye transplant starts seeing ghosts though believes it to be glitches in the software of his untested implant. The forced perspective of "eyeview" provides glimpses of faraway ghosts, one being a creepy man and a little girl. Later joined by a an ear-psychic hot girl, they soon realize technology is NSA-ing into another dimension. Nothing new on this front. Just some old fashioned Paranormal Activity spooks and scares.
A Ride in the Park (Gregg Hale/Eduardo Sanchez)
Sanchez and Hale are your found footage pioneers (via The Blair Witch Project) and it's awesome to see them back in the sub genre they started. With this short, one can only wonder how in the world have we not seen this originality...well ever. A biker with a camera attached to his helmet unfortunately wanders into the zombie woods and tries to escape. But our hero becomes our anti-hero hero zombie hero.Got that? Infected, we see the wonders and hilarity that ensue when we get the zombie's point of view.
On the oh shit that's awesome scale, this is zombie vs shark type awesomeness. Brilliantly written and directed by the founding fathers, we see the chaos unfold at a kid's party and the utter sadness of being a zombie. Ridiculously LOL moments throughout that make you wonder why nobody has ever done this before.
Safe Haven (Gareth Evans/Timo Tjahjanto)
If you've never seen the The Raid: Redemption, go watch it now. I'll wait. You one? Wasn't that awesome? OMG too awesome. With Safe Haven, I had to figure out how in the world Gareth Evans would do something horror-y. Clearly, were back in Indonesia/Thailand? for some very fucked up reason. And as short unfolds telling us of a Branch Davidian like cult, you start to realize this is going to end well. The news crew all equipped with hidden cameras on their clothing interview a manic cult leader and visit the compound where it seems they are in final preparations for something big. When the chaos begins, all hell breaks loose.
Evans dresses up the suicide cult with all the brainwashed angst we love and the frenetic pace and movement of a fight scene that's actually a "I gotta run away from these fucked up cult members".
It's pure brilliance than turns in WTF that turns into OMG. Who knew this would be one of the stellar shorts in VHS 2?
Slumber Party Alien Abduction (Jason Eisener)
I'm hoping all of you have seen Hobo with a Shotgun by now. Eisener's fake trailer turned full length movie is what indie horror is all about. With Slumber Party Alien Abduction, you have all the elements of taking the ordinary wacky pre teens and older sister dynamic and getting our Fire in the Sky on. It borders on the absurd but it's what Eisener clearly is great at. The greys start to attack our tweenage boys, the teenage older sister and her boyfriend until were left with a boy and his dog.It's a bit too weird for my tastes and seem out of place for a horror film.
Not great and one of the oddest choices to end VHS 2.
VHS 2 is like an appetizer sampling of the who's who in the next crop of the Internet generation's horror alumni. You may not like all the shorts but the one's you do, hopefully will enable you to see watch the director or writer's other films. Wingard is coming out with You're Next which I'm excited to see. VHS 2 is definitely better than it's predecessor focusing more laughs than scares. The monsters are out and about in VHS 2 and that's definitely a good thing. With few shorts, the movie gives more time for each segment to set up.
A Ride in the Park and Safe Haven are standouts and should be seen by any self serving horror fan.
With VHS 2, the found footage/POV film is alive and well and the pioneers and the colonists are still making sure it stays that way.
Yes and it's awesomely gratuitous (well look at that. I copied what I wrote in my last VHS review)
Lots of it. You're momma would be proud. (ditto!)
The ending for Safe Haven.
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
VHS is now out on VOD and in theaters on 7/12. Head over to the official site via Magnet Releasing and Facebook page.
Check out the trailer.