Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 36 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Graphic and Bloody Violence, Grisly Images, Sexual Material, Nudity and Language
Directed by: Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Gareth Huw Evans, Timo Tjahjanto & Jason Eisner
Written by: Simon Barrett, Jamie Nash, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans & John Davies
Starring: Lawrence Michael Levine, Kelsy Abbott, Adam Wingard, Hannah Hughes, Jay Saunders, Fachry Albar, Hannah Al Rashid, Zack Ford & Samantha Gracie
V/H/S/2 is one of those rare sequels that improves on the original. With a better team of directors and a ton of creative ideas, this second installment of the newly formed V/H/S franchise is a more cohesive experience than the great, but uneven, predecessor. The original focused on moody less-is-more horror tales, but this sequel shifts the focus onto being in-your-face scary and over-the-top fun! V/H/S/2 is the best anthology film since TRICK ‘R TREAT. This time around the found footage is four stories contained in a wraparound segment that has nods to the first film scattered throughout.
TAPE 49 (Wraparound): Two private investigators are assigned to look into a missing college student. Upon arriving at his home, they find a plethora of flickering TV screens and VHS tapes strewn all over the place. While one of the private investigators searches the house for any clues, the other begins to stuck in the VHS tapes and watch the contents. This brings us to the four segments/tapes contained in the movie. While the first film had a pretty creepy wraparound, I found this one to be superior as far as the scares go. Just before the next tape is shown, a little more is revealed about the hell that the investigators just walked into. It pays off greatly in the twisted final minutes. A
PHASE I: CLINICAL TRIALS: The first segment is directed by Adam Wingard (of recent YOU’RE NEXT fame). Wingard plays the central character: a man has lost his eye in a car accident and gets a bionic implant. This implant allows him to see, while scientists are recording through the bionic eye for a trial period. It turns out that there are “glitches” in the man’s vision and these may actually be ghosts that mean him harm. This story was pretty a spooky ride from beginning to cringe-inducing end. There are some solid scares throughout and I was really disturbed, but satisfied, by the way it concluded. A-
A RIDE IN THE PARK: Even the weakest story here is great, which shows just how strong V/H/S/2 is as a whole. A man is going for a bike ride in the park and straps a camera to his helmet in order to capture his “extreme tricks.” When a screaming bloody woman runs out of the woods, the man attempts to help her, only to be bitten. That’s right. She’s become a zombie and the man has just been infected. Executing an original idea, the camera is still rolling on the man’s helmet as he succumbs to the zombie virus and we see his shenanigans as a flesh-eating ghoul. This one isn’t scary in the slightest, but it’s so ridiculously entertaining! The biggest laughs come in where the zombies actually end up, which employs the use of multiple cameras. Really cool stuff! B+
SAFE HAVEN: The best of both V/H/S films belongs to this entry. Directed by the creators of THE RAID and MACABRE, this segment follows a documentary crew who have been invited to film a cult in their massive temple. It soon appears that they’ve arrived at a very bad time and things literally go to hell. Wall-crawling maniacs, reanimated ghouls, satanic rituals, mass suicide, and all sorts of gory mayhem ensue. This is by far the darkest segment and feels like a literal nightmare captured on film. It’s the longest segment in V/H/S/2 and I wish it had been a full feature. This was terrifying and ends with one of the coolest looking demons I’ve seen in a long time. Amazing segment and one of the best short films I’ve ever seen in my life! A+
SLUMBER PARTY ALIEN ABDUCTION: Demonstrating why anthology films are so much fun is this final segment. While the last one went for nightmarish, this one goes for thrills and chills in a fun way. While their parents are away, a group of teens and their friends are having a massive slumber party. The older and younger siblings pull pranks on each other that escalate, but they have no idea that an otherworldly menace is waiting to take them. As the title suggests, aliens arrive and try to abduct the kids. The whole segment is a wild cat-and-mouse game done with adrenaline-pumping speed! The look of the aliens themselves is neat and the young cast is entertaining to watch (as well as realistic too). A
Taken as a whole, V/H/S/2 is an infinitely better film than its predecessor. There aren’t significant drops in quality and no weak segments at all. The film jives as a whole, far better than the disjointed (but still great) V/H/S. For those who say that there isn’t any magic left in the found footage subgenre, I challenge you to watch V/H/S/2 and not be impressed by at least one of the segments (cough, Safe Haven, cough). I can easily see this film going down as a future horror classic. At times creepy, other times entertaining as hell, and finally nightmarish when it wants to be, V/H/S/2 showcases many different threats of the genre (ghosts, zombies, cults, aliens) and winds up as one of the absolute best horror films of 2013!