When V/H/S hit Fantasia last year with a sold out screening, the masses were hoping and begging for a horror-anthology film that would scare the socks and/or pants off of them. Sadly, the original fell flat, leaving many audiences and critics with pants still intact. But, alas! The horror Gods have shined down on (or below) us, and answered our pleas, delivering the new and improved V/H/S/2. A handy-cam, shaky-shot flick filled with a ton more gore, scares and fun than its predecessor.
V/H/S/2, a horror anthology, jumps on the popular found footage style of filmmaking and creates a horrifying, almost sadistic feature, linking five short films together, with one serving as the melting pot; blending and morphing all the blood, flesh and sweat into one delicious film.
The main story arc, Tape 49 (director Simon Barrett) revolves around a private investigating couple, who have been hired to search a house for clues regarding a missing college kid. A trail of creepy clues emerge, such as video of the kid playing on a laptop, as well as dozens of VHS tapes and TV monitors stacked around the room (What’s scarier than analog nowadays). While one investigator searches the home, the woman - with the Fantasia audience tagging along - watches the tapes, which ultimately turn out to be the shorts that make up the movie.
This entry, is definitely the weakest of the bunch, but still does a very admirable job at creating an actual premise to the film. In V/H/S, the main entry lacked any real story and solely served as the vessel to play the shorts to the audience. Barrett made sure to incorporate some depth in his version and the payoff is an ending much more satisfying than the original.
Phase I Clinical Trials (director Adam Wingard), follows a man who has his lost eye replaced with a top-of-the-line computerized one. The man knows that one catch to this super exclusive surgery, is that the developers get to insert a small video-recording device into the eye for research (the lens from which we see the film). The other catch that Mr. Patient isn’t aware of, is that this new robot eye has the ability to see evil ghosts, and they don’t like it. Even though Wingard’s short uses a lot of the cliched ghost story scares, the jumps are genuinely scary and refreshing when told from a very cool first-person perspective.
A Ride in the Park (directors Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale, The Blair Witch) is a very simple yet original take on a horror classic. Zombies. This story starts off with a cheesy but oh-so-adorably-cute cell phone conversation with a bike rider and his girlfriend, who are both unknowingly sharing their last conversation. While filming his ride on a helmet mounted GoPro, he’s attacked and bitten by a zombie, and we as the audience, tag along as he terrorizes a child’s birthday party. This title certainly leaves a lasting impression after not only seeing life through a zombie’s eyes, but also how they think. Some hilariously bloody scenes, accompanied by a finale of surprising depth and empathy leaves A Ride in the Park as one of the more entertaining of the compilation.
The best of the anthology is also the most ambitious, and attempts to paint the controversies surrounding the legitimacy and morality of certain religious cults. Safe Haven (directors Gareth Evans and Timo Tjahjanto) centers around a documentary news crew as they interview and investigate the “Father” of a Indonesian cult, who is rumored to take advantage of the cult’s young girls. Unlike the other shorts, Safe Haven is extremely patient with its scares and gore, and instead elects to build the uncomfortableness of the property and the delusions of the cult leader. This short deals with the interpersonal relationships of both the cult and the crew members, creating an incredibly emotional story that leads into one hell of a scary, and seriously epic finale.
In what starts out to be a hilarious, buddy-teen-coming-of-age story, Slumber Party Alien Abduction (director Jason Eisener) dramatically shifts into well, just that. Pranks, sex, and self-pleasuring are soon placed on the back-burner after a group of kids and a dog are attacked by a bunch of extremely aggressive aliens. The camera, mounted onto the canine gives a very interesting POV, and the fast paced scares and camerawork offer some heart-pounding rushes, but this flick doesn’t quite stack up story-wise to the rest of the anthology.
V/H/S/2 took the criticism’s from their original with a grain of salt and created a horror film that fans of the genre long for. Blood, guts, scares, but more importantly entertainment. Add all of that with one hundred percent HD footage, unlike its predecessor, as well as creativity, originality and insanity and you get a horror flick so freaky that everyone’s left saying, “where the hell are my pants!”