V/H/S 2

VHS2Poster

Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Bloody Disgusting

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Simon Barret (Tape 49 Wraparound), Jason Eisner (Slumber Party Alien Abduction), Gareth Evans (Safe Haven), Gregg Hale (A Ride in the Park), Eduardo Sanchez (A Ride in the Park), Timo Tjahjanto (Safe Haven), Adam Wingard (Phase 1 Clinical Trials)

Review Rating: 7

A series of scary shorts on V/H/S tapes preying upon a pair of investigators looking for a missing student gives us the sequel to the wildly successful first V/H/S.

Oh, I am disappointed. I enjoyed the first V/H/S film quite a bit, it was a surprisingly good bit of found footage nightmares. The sequel is plagued with various issues, but mainly, they just tried too hard. Each story gets nifty new camera tricks, angles, and magickery, but rather than enhancing the experience, these newer visual stratagems give (occasionally literally) staring proof of our next problem: the plots. Sure it looks cool to see the scary ghost scream from a corner, for the guy to pop his own cyber eye out, or for the zombie with the head cam to flop on the ground, but the slick camera tricks just disjoint the visuals from what story there is in each vignette. And there isn’t much to begin with. Even the Wraparound Story, about two investigators searching for a missing student, led to his place inundated with V/H/S tapes everywhere, and we just have to watch the one marked with an X while something lurks in the background shadows. Fine. Off we go to the first tape.

In Phase 1 Clinical Trials, we have here an eye patient who got, you guessed it, an cyber eye implant kind of deal. The doc who did the transfer informs patient guy that his new eye will be recorded for awhile, for research purposes, and no there isn’t anything he can do about it. So everything is from the point of view (POV) of this new cyber eye which looks very odd in the bathroom mirror, compared to his normal other eye. Inevitably patient guy begins suffering visions of what I am guessing to be are some seriously pissed off ghosts. Somehow this chick Clarissa, who received a cochlear implant and now claims to be suffering the same visions haunting our Protag, found him and the two of them spend an awkward night getting to know eachother and hooking up. Soon after patient guy is again attacked by vicious ghosts and even popping out his new eye doesn’t save him from their wrath. But before I can ask what furious poltergeists have to do with body implants, we’ve had a very brief segue into the Wraparound and we’re on to the next story. …

Ah, the idyllic day. You and your significant other are off for A Ride In The Park, on a bicycle with helmet-mounted cameras. Of course. Except this park is now being overrun with the passed from person to person by the standard biting method, you guessed it, zombies! And while it is sort of fun to watch the zombie-ism pass from person to hapless person, from bikers to hikers to destroying a kiddie birthday party, the camera POV will jump between the head mounted cameras and the video cameras elsewhere, and that just annoyed me no end. There was no real reason for the POV to keep changing, I thought it would’ve been better to just stay with the first head camera on the bicyclist zombie guy. They seem to be saying, screw continuity. Another brief jaunt into the Wraparound story gives us a nosebleed and not much else, so we need to move on to…

Safe Haven is honestly anything but. A news crew with internal dramatics of their own is being allowed in to take interviews with an Indonesian cult and their leader whom most just call Father. This is also a man accused of pedophilia and murder and any number of other crimes. Since they are a news crew, there are cameras everywhere and of course they’re all recording at the same time, allowing the movie to flip through other angles (the only vignette with a solid reason for doing so). Our crew just happened to come on the Day of Birth, wherein the commune-like atmosphere of the cult is replaced by a slaughterhouse abbatoir that Eli Roth can envy. That’s just the opening salvo, the cult has to perform a ritual that uses the pregnant camera crew lady as a conduit for the birth of their Demon Lord, and manages to succeed in a rather spectacular fashion. This would’ve been the right spot to end the vignette, but, no. The Demon Lord chases his would-be “Father”, the last surviving camera crew member, off the cult property and into a car wreck, where the clip promptly ruins every last shred of all the incredible Horror they’ve shown at this point, in literally the last minute of the segment.

Another dive into the Wraparound Story before we trudge off into the last clip of the…hangon. Death? The female investigator looking for the student, she’s dead. And there is a final tape saying “WATCH” in her lipstick, and after a brief mourn, her partner leads us to the last vignette. Okay, sure. Here we go.

Well, just give everything away in the title already, when it happens to be called Slumber Party Alien Abduction. We have kids making home movies via a camera attached to their dog Tank, which makes for all sorts of nauseating shaky-cam shots with a fluff of dog hair at the bottom of the screen. The sister and her boyfriend and their friends show up after the folks take off for vacation, leaving all these preteens and teens to have a kind of babysitting-sleepover deal, when, wait for it, grey aliens show up. And boy these guys are mean – they murder the hell out of those kids, chase and harry them throughout the clip, they even hurt the dog. This blackout leads us to…

After explaining that these tapes have a way of messing with your head (…duh?), the student in the laptop video promptly kills himself. And a little while later, he gets up to go wait for the arrival of the two investigators, leading us full circle to the monster in the shadows of the Wraparound Story. *sigh* I know this is an Indonesian-American release sequel and there are a bunch of new directors for the shorts, and only two returning ones. Still, the efforts presented are often far too much representing far too little, and frankly V/H/S 2 is an unworthy sequel movie.

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