Bonus movie! ‘V/H/S/2’

It seemed like Halloween ended too soon this year so I had to toss in an extra movie. I’m glad I did because this film pretty much topped everything else I watched over the past couple of months. I present to you…

V/H/S/2

V/H/S/2 (2013) – Directed by Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sánchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjnto, Gareth Huw Evans, Jason Eisner. Starring Lawrence Michael Levine, Kelsy Abbott, Adam Wingard, Hannah Hughes, Jay Saunders, Dave Coyne, Wendy Donigian, Fachry Albar, Hanna Al Rashid, Oka Antara, Rylan Logan, Samantha Gracie.

Last year V/H/S showcased a series of “found footage” short films by a group of “up and coming” horror directors such as Adam Wingard and Ti West. Those of you who are weary of found footage probably stayed away but I happen to like them so I was eager to see what the new flesh would bring me. I thought the movie was fine but had nothing really special going for it with the possible exception of the final short that had a bit of a frantic, rollercoaster feel to it. I also really couldn’t stand the framing story, which contained a group of characters that were such unbelievable assholes I didn’t even care enough to see them killed off. I expected little from the sequel and didn’t feel the need to rush into it until it was heartily recommended to me. I’m thrilled to have checked it out.

The sequel improves on the faults of the original. With one less film and a less complicated framing story, V/H/S/2  has a shorter running time so it doesn’t wear out its welcome. The quality of the shorts is improved as well. They aren’t filled with as many asshole characters like the ones we had to suffer with before. And they utilize more of that crazy thrill ride tone I am drawn towards in my horror movies these days.

The framing story, titled “Tape 49”, features a pair of young private detectives, Larry (Lawrence Michael Levine) and Ayesha (Kelsy Abbott), who have been hired to look into the disappearance of a missing college student. They break into the guy’s home and find a stack of videotapes, televisions, and VCRs. Apparently the guy was some kind of underground VHS tape collector. Larry tells Ayesha to watch the tapes while he explores the rest of the house. It is, of course, the tapes that comprise the short films of V/H/S/2.

The first tape, titled “Phase I Clinical Trials”, features a guy, played by the short’s director Adam Wingard, who is the lucky recipient of a bionic eye that causes him to see ghosts. A girl, who apparently followed him home from the hospital, arrives with more information about what’s going on. Then things get a little crazy. There are some creepy moments, particularly one bit with a bed that may have been more effective because I was in bed while watching it. Unfortunately the look of the ghosts was a bit of a let down for me. Still, I enjoyed it overall.

The second tape, “A Ride in the Park”,  is directed by Eduardo Sánchez, co-director of Blair Witch Project. A biker (Jay Saunders) is riding on a trail with a GoPro camera attached to his helmet. He runs across a hysterical woman who suddenly vomits and… well, you should discover the rest on your own. It’s a lot of fun though it contains a bit of… shall we say “character development” that rung a bit false with me but at least provided some way of ending the film.

The third tape, “Safe Haven”, is the best of the lot. It is directed by Timo Tjahjanto, who directed Macabre, and Gareth Evans, the director of the fantastic martial arts film The Raid. This is the kind of crazy, bloody, scary, intense thrill ride I look for in my horror movies. A news crew investigates an Indonesian cult at its commune and… well, that’s about all I need to tell you. Except, of course, things do not go well for our news crew. This ends up being the bloodiest, craziest short of the bunch.

The fourth film, which has the great title “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” is directed by Jason Eisner, director of the fabulous Hobo With A Shotgun. This isn’t as great as Hobo, which is a high standard to follow, but it’s fun. It keeps that thrill ride vibe going but it’s hard to live up to the genius of the previous short. Unfortunately the camera work is jerkier and harder to follow than the rest of the film but it’s not indecipherable. I can see why they ended with it but I might have enjoyed it more if it came earlier in the film.

V/H/S/2 makes the original film feel like a practice run. I’d say that even horror fans who avoid found footage movies should check it out. It should still be streaming on Netflix. “Safe Haven” alone is my favorite horror film to come out this year so far.

And I’ve only recently discovered this little film directed by Timo Tjahjanto called Macabre… It is apparently available on Hulu… I’ll have to check it out…

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One Response to “Bonus movie! ‘V/H/S/2’”

  1. The Gareth Evans short was fucking off the rails. I mean…almost. It went a head-scratchy right at the very end. But everything leading up to that is rewatchable gold.

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