Friday, June 14, 2013


V/H/S 2
Director: Simon Barret (Tape 49), Adam Wingard (Clinical Trials), Eduardo Sanchez & Gregg Hale (A Ride In The Park), Gareth Huw Evans & Timo Tjahjanto (Safe Haven), Jason Eisener (Alien Abduction Slumber Party)
Rated: R
96 minutes

CLICK HERE for my review of the first film, V/H/S

V/H/S 2 is surprisingly a response to the first film and outdoing the original in every way.  I almost feel like the producers read my and others' reviews and tinkered accordingly.  The anthology sequel is a much tighter and enhanced version of its predecessor.
  The film not only trims the fat, but there is much better craftsmanship behind the scenes as well.  The film is never boring, and actually brings some genuine jumps and eerie creepiness to play that demands to be watched alone in a dark room late at night.

The base story that the anthology revolves around this time is one of the film's biggest improvements.  Instead of 5-6 assholes who you can't tell from one another, running around a house which you cannot understand a bit of its geography, they oversimplify it playing to everyone's benefit.  This time, its just a private investigator and his girlfriend.  They're looking for a college kid. They break into his house.  Guy searches house, girl sits watching VHS tapes.  This is the weakest of all the stories, but that's okay.  Its just the connective tissue.  Its got some good stuff going for it.  The characters aren't repulsive and its always giving you just a tease of things, leaving you for some more.  Its easy to tell who's where and doing what.  Not hard, but simple.  The original had too many characters, in too big of a house, it was hard to know what was going on.

The biggest plus of V/H/S 2 is trimming the fat.  We've gone from 5 shorts to 4.  From 2+ hours to a little over 90 minutes.  There is no exhaustion from rifling through so many.  Also, all the shorts this time are good.  In the first, there was the one in the middle that was terrible and just killed all momentum and energy the film had built up to that point.  The 4 films are all collectively different and some of the best made found footage films this guy has ever seen.  They don't play on cheap scares or gore for the sake of gore.  There's also no slow burn here (which I like, but when you're watching an anthology series, the appreciation gets lost amongst watching different balance of genre types), to feel out of place with the rest.  This one moves and keeps you on your toes.  I never once felt the need to say "Okay, next".

I tried best I could to go into this one blind, but I'll give a little bit here and there on each one

Clinical Trials

Adam Wingard directs and stars as a patient receiving an eye transplant with a camera attached so doctors can monitor his progress.  This new eye however, sees a whole new world before him.  This one actually gave me a good jump in one scene.  It plays this little ghost story of sorts with the utmost sense of unpredictability.  There's a really dumb and forced sex/nude scene in it that should have been left out, but the rest is just fine.  Its a fun first-person adventure having you constantly saying "where is it? where is it?"  A nice start, but things do get better.

A Ride In The Park

This one is the least of scare in the entire anthology.  But its an interesting take on the zombie genre.  We get to see someone go from man to zombie and get a zombie story from the perspective of the zombie.  Its fun, its funny, its gross and a little bit gory.  Probably the weakest entry of the 4, and easily the least on the scares, but its more a fun little adventure and exercise on doing a new take on something currently overdone.

Safe Haven

This one will get under your skin.  Safe Haven is the story of  a documentary crew going into a secluded religious cult and interviewing its leader.  There's a lot of disturbing things suggested followed by equally disturbing events.  It also features some actually depth and development in its characters you don't really expect from a short film in a horror anthology.  You never fully understand and that's what's so creepy about it.  It also does a wonderful job of making you feel uneasy, trapped and not the least bit safe.  This one may have been my favorite and gotten to me the most.

Alien Abduction Slumber Party

Take a Spielberg like scenario and flip it on its head.  Make it much more dark and brutal.  That's how this one plays.  It starts out in similar fashion to just a fun teens and kids hijinx film, but gets very intense and scary.  The aliens are very creepy and there's absolutely not a trace of motive or anything.  The less you know, the scarier it is.  This one felt about as real as you could considering the subject matter.  There's a lot of teasing leading up to quite the chase of a finale.  Its a very suspenseful little tale and is the ultimate crowd pleaser of the 4 films.  Its a very close 2nd to the previous one for me.  Though if you ask me tomorrow, I may flip flop them.  This anthology does end on a very strong two notes.

V/H/S 2 is a masterful improvement on the first film.  They listened, and took the criticism constructively.  They didn't just accept they had a cult hit and shoot for more of the same.  They brought in fresh blood and better filmmakers.  They tightened everything up and made a better short film as opposed to an bulked up "more is better" type film.  It's not often we see that.  I'm on record saying I'm not a big fan of the found footage style, but when done like this I can easily come back for more.  I highly recommend watching this one late at night, with all the lights out, home alone.

Grade: B

V/H/S 2 is now available On-Demand and on iTunes.  It will be released in theaters July 12.

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