Directors: Simon Barrett, Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, Gregg Hale, Eduardo Sanchez, Timo Tjahjanto, Adam Wingard
Starring: Adam Wingard, Lawrence Michael Levine, Devon Brookshire, Fachry Albar, Hannah Hughes
Who’s tracking you?
V/H/S 2 is the sequel to the very popular found footage anthology film V/H/S that came out only a year ago. The producers took the feedback of the first one serious and made this one have four segments instead of five and it generally feels like a much better produced bunch of segments this time around. While they might be technically better though, it does lose a bit of the indie-feel that the first one had. These collections of tapes is actually surprisingly sharp and that does remove some of the point of it supposedly being on VHS tapes, but even the first had problems with that even though they both looked and felt more like VHS tapes than this one does.
As with the first one, the arc story isn’t very good. This one is called Tape 49, which is interesting since the wraparound in the first one was called Tape 56, hinting that this might actually be a prequel. It follows two private investigators who are trying to locate a missing young student. When they enter the home of the student, they find it to be abandoned with plenty of VHS tapes, TV sets and a laptop that are filled with several short clips.
While this one at least had something going for it, where the arc story in the original had nothing, it still feels pointless and even if they tried to add some horror to this one it just didn’t work for me at all. It is done by Simon Barrett who also did the wraparound for the first one and I guess he did try to make it have some connection to the first film, but again it just felt pointless and bad.
The first tape is called Phase I Clinical Trials and it is done by Adam Wingard, who also worked on the wraparound for the first one and has also had a segment on The ABCs of Death, while still awaiting the release of the much-anticipated movie You’re Next (supposed to be released later this year). Wingard also stars in this segment as a guy who has just had an experimental computer eye after losing his own in a car accident. Although he does get his sight back, he also starts to see more than he wants to.
This is the only segment of this film that goes for “jump scares” and it does work at parts, but the premise is done several times before in full length movies and this is nothing new except the fact that everything is filmed from his high-tech eyeball. The supernatural elements to it is done well enough and it does have some gruesome scenes. While it is ok and not a bad start to the anthology film, it does feel like something you will have forgotten within a few hours after seeing this film. It doesn’t become boring since it doesn’t have enough running time to do so.
The second tape is called A Ride in the Park and this also has a fun new way to shoot a found footage film, although I still don’t understand why this would ever be transferred to a VHS tape. A young sporty male is going biking in the woods and has mounted a helmet cam to film his… well biking. He comes across a wounded female, who soon starts to attack and bite him. It doesn’t take long until he becomes a full-fledged zombie and thanks to the helmet cam, we are there for his entire ride.
While the setup is kind of fun and it does have some nice gore, it is a segment that is done very poorly and does not fully live up to its potential. It is co-directed between Gregg Hale and Eduardo Sanchez and I think they could have done some more with it than what the final result ended up being. It is still fun to watch and is also saved by not having that long of a running time to become too goofy or even dull.
The third one is the segment that has received the most praise by the horror crowd so far and it is called Safe Haven. It takes place in Indonesia where a TV crew is successfully scoring an interview and tour of the very closed community of Safe Haven, led by the cult leader that is going under the name “Father”. It doesn’t take them long to find out that there is more going on at this place than what originally meets the eye, but even their wildest imaginations could not prepare them for what is bound to happen at their stay.
This segment starts off with a creepy atmosphere and makes you think that you will be in for a Jim Jones type of story, but suddenly it goes supernatural and cranks up the craziness. It becomes such a big gory and shocking ride and I agree with the other reviews I’ve read that this is the best segment of this collection. This was co-directed by Gareth Evans and Timo Tjahjanto, a strange combination but it surely works great here. If I have to criticize anything about it, it would actually be that it does go a bit over-the-top and I was more invested in the cult story that was setup in the beginning.
The fourth and final segment of V/H/S 2 is called Slumber Party Alien Abduction and the title couldn’t explain the story more if it tried. A group of teenagers are spending the night together home alone while their parents are away. There are two age groups here with the older sister and the younger brother with a lot of arguing between them, but when night comes and they get a visit from an alien threat, they have to try to survive together.
This is perhaps the only segment that could work well in V/H/S 1. It has a more no-budget feel to it, even though it is done technically very well, but it is also not as high quality in visuals as the other ones and I think it was done this way on purpose. Most of the setup is used to show how much these siblings dislike each other and it gets dull very quickly until the aliens show up to cause some damage. These are traditional gray aliens, but they are very frightening in this one. The segment does fail because of lack of good characters though, so even if the camerawork is great and the ending might offend some people, I did not enjoy this one as much as I wish I had.
Overall I would say that this one is a more solid film as a whole even if it doesn’t have the high points that the original had. Since it doesn’t have any terrible segments either, it does become a nice watch and I hope they do continue with these films in the future. I still don’t understand why the footage done with high-tech equipment would end up on VHS tapes, but I guess that doesn’t really matter in the end.
If you liked the first one then you should give this one a go aswell. If you didn’t care for the first, then obviously you should skip this. I like the idea of these films and I’m sure if they continue to make them we could end up with an impressive “best of” ten years down the line.