V/H/S/2 is a bigger and better successor to last year’s V/H/S. For those not familiar with the V/H/S series, V/H/S is a combination of two popular styles of horror filmmaking. The film is first and foremost an anthology film. Anthology films usually contain an overarching story that serves to introduce and present us with usually three to five unrelated short stories. The most infamous of all horror anthologies is George A Romero and Stephen King’s 1982 flick, Creepshow. Many horror anthologies have been made before and after Creepshow, but Creepshow seems to be the template for how to make a horror anthology series. It contains practical effects, gross out stories, suspense, and a sharp sense of humor and style. However, the horror anthology seems to be a dead art. Fortuantely, V/H/S has finally brought back the horror anthology series to its glory days.
The other popular style that V/H/S works in is the found footage approach. 90’s films such as The Last Broadcast and The Blair Witch Project were the earliest approaches to this sub-genre. However, ever since 2007’s Paranormal Activity, the found footage genre has boomed. Other examples include the spanish language [Rec], Grave Encounters, and Cloverfield. V/H/S presents all of its stories through creative and unique first person techniques (i.e. a camera strapped to a dog, a camera built into the side of a pair of glasses, or a Skype chat). Therefore, V/H/S presents four to five short stories each with their own first person technique.
V/H/S/2 has now come along and trumped the first film in every way. The first film has many issues, such as weak stories, a ridiculous overarching story, and annoying opening 15 minutes. This film mends all of this though. Instead of an overarching story and five shorts, we get an overarching story and four shorts. The opening of the film is much shorter than the last. The overarching story still leaves us with questions, but finds a way to be more understandable and concise.
Segment #1 is titled “Phase 1 Clinical Trials.” This segment involves a man who receives a robot eye as an implant. However, his new eye causes him to see ghosts in his house. I found this short to be the least pleasing of them all. It has a creative set up, but fails to really deliver. It also relies on jump scares throughout, which while scary, are probably the cheapest and weakest way to scary someone.
Segment #2 is titled “A Ride Through the Park”. This is the least scary of the segments but also the most fun of them all. A guy straps a Go Pro onto his head and goes on a bike ride. He runs into a patch of zombies and quickly becomes zombified himself. We now see him run amok within the woods as his Go Pro reveals all of the gory details. This one will probably have you shaking your head with a smile, because it is the most fun and silly of the bunch. It’s better than Segment #1 though.
Segment #3 is the reason to see this film. Co-Directed by Gareth Evans (The Raid: Redemption), segment #3 is titled, “Safe Haven.” It is nearly 40 minutes, the longest of all of the shorts. The story involves a documentary group entering a cult’s home and documenting their actions. There’s no point in me going further into this one. It is one of the best short horror stories I have ever seen, and is one of the creepiest and awesome shorts I have ever witnessed. Horror buffs will be talking about this segment for years to come, it is that good and powerful. I would deem it a perfect horror segment, no joke.
Segment #4 is titled “Slumber Party Alien Abduction”. As a group of kids play pranks at their house, aliens quickly descend upon their hangout and attack them. The aliens are portrayed very creepy, much like classic aliens from old 60’s sci-fi. Besides hand held cameras, one of the cameras is eventually strapped to the back of a dog. This is how we witness most of the film’s events during the latter half of the short. While being the most basic of the shorts, this segment is just a very pleasing and simple horror tale. Chilling ending too.
So, how do I view V/H/S/2 overall? I think it is a very good horror anthology film. I have no serious issues like I did with the first film. I may have small nitpicks, such as unnecessary nudity in the first two segments and a still unexplainable overarching story. But, V/H/S/2 leaves you with a powerful horror experience that will not be forgotten. And the 3rd segment, “Safe Haven”, just needs to be seen by anyone who enjoys horror films or Gareth Evans’ filmmaking. All I can say is bring on V/H/S/3!
V/H/S/2 (2013) directed by Jason Eisner, Gareth Evans, Adam Wingard, Timo Tjahjanto, Eduardo Sanchez, and Gregg Hale
Note: V/H/S/2 is available through video on demand right now. It is another pre-theatrical release. I had to pay $10 for this on iTunes, when these releases are usually around $6 or $7 (such as Dragon and Room 127). Therefore, I hope this steep price for a 24 hour rental will go down for other films.