Film Review: V/H/S 2 (2013)

VHS 2 screenshot

“An improvement on the original!”

VHS 2 cover Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat, shall we? V/H/S 2 does pretty much what its predecessor did, but with a bigger budget. That said, this sequel does offer some nice surprises.

Comprising of four unrelated horror shorts all told via the medium of good old handycam footage and wrapped inside a bookended tale, V/H/S 2 offers us variety, which always makes for a more satisfying experience for the viewer.

Firstly, we have ‘Tape 49’. This wraparound story follows two private detectives on the search for a missing student. They break into his home and find it apparently deserted apart from the familiar bank of television sets and stacks of VHS video cassettes. As one of the detectives searches the rest of the house, the other sits down and starts to watch the scattered tapes. Bad move, huh?

The first real story is called ‘Phase 1 Clinical Trials’ and involves Herman, who has just got himself a bionic eye that records everything it sees. On his first night back at his house, he sees dead people and locks himself in his bathroom until morning. The next day Clarissa, who Herman saw at the bionic-replacement clinic, turns up at his doorstep and reveals she can hear the people he can see, having had an implant of her own due to her being born deaf. She also tells him how to ignore the dead people. Unsurprisingly, not everything goes to plan.

The second tale is a zombie outbreak with a twist in ‘A Ride In The Park’. Told through the helmet-cam on a biker as he turns into a zombie, we see the outbreak – quite literally – from a zombie perspective. The pièce de résistance of this sequence is when an undead invasion descends upon a children’s birthday party. A good reworking of an old trope.

‘Safe Haven’ is nearly all in Indonesian and without subtitles, but if anything it helps the insanity unfold. A news crew of four are interviewing what appears to be the leader of a cult and are given access to the place where they live. All appears calm until one of the group reveals a secret that could rip their lives apart. Coincidentally, at the same time, the cult makes it clear they don’t particularly want to stick around for what’s about to happen. As this piece unfolds, it gets crazier by the minute.

The final standalone tale has a title that speaks for itself and harkens back to cheap 80s horror films. ‘Slumber Party Alien Abduction’ does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s nicely filmed – via a video camera strapped to the pet dog – and the aliens are well framed so as to avoid the same mistakes of focusing on them too much and cheating the viewer.

‘Tape 49’ has an obvious outcome by the time you come to it and fans of the original will already have a clear idea of what’s going to happen.

Overall, it’s an improvement on the original which doesn’t set the bar amazingly high but at least all four stories are more engaging.

A word of warning; as with all films like this, if you suffer from motion sickness, be prepared to get a headache. It’s worth a viewing with some friends, and it’s nice to see lots of practical effects on show instead of boring old CGI as well as plenty of the red stuff, just make sure you’ve got some paracetamol for afterwards.

JD GILLAM

 

Directors: Simon Barrett, Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, Gregg Hale, Eduardo Sanchez, Timo Tjahjanto, Adam Wingard
Screenplay: Simon Barrett, Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, Eduardo Sanchez, Timo Tjahjanto, Jamie Nash, John Davies, Brad Miska (concept)
Starring: Lawrence Michael Levine, Kelsy Abbott, Adam Wingard, Jay Saunders, Fachry Albar, Rebecca Babcock
Certificate: 18
Running Time: 95 minutes
Release Date: 14 October 2013

For a second opinion check out our review for V/H/S 2 at FrightFest 2013.

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