Directed by: Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, et al.
Starring: Kelsy Abbott, Hannah Al Rashid
Less than a year has passed since the majority of the world was able to experience the original V/H/S, and already the anthology horror project originally conceived by Bloody-Disgusting’s Brad Miska has birthed a sequel. V/H/S/2 follows a format similar to the original, with a selection of the genre’s biggest names contributing shorts, but this time the final results far outshine their predecessor in every way imaginable.
For the uninitiated, the V/H/S franchise is built on the idea that there are an endless number of strange and bizarre VHS tapes being traded amongst people for reasons that the audience have yet to fully understand. I don’t know how long they can use this idea without digging deeper into the mythology than that, but for now it’s all we need. Just like the original, V/H/S/2 opens with a group of people (in this case, a couple) searching a third party’s home and finding their stash of videos amidst living conditions that are anything but lush. Curious about the presence of so many unmarked tapes, the people we meet at the head of the film eventually dig into the collection, and viewers are given a first class seat on a ride through a world where literally anything is possible.
I had no major issues with the shorts presented in the original V/H/S. That said, I also did not think any of the individual parts would have been praised all that much had they been released outside such a collaborative effort. With V/H/S/2, each short feels like it could stand alone if the filmmakers so desired, and in many cases could probably have been fleshed out into full features. Without giving away too much, here’s a quick rundown of the various contributions:
- Tape 49 (by Simon Barrett) – The wrap-around, this short is far more concise and effective than that which guided us through the original. Unfortunately, there is not much more to be said that doesn’t give the whole thing away. Just know the payoff is completely worth the wait.
- Clinical Trials (by Adam Wingard) – Much like the short that lead V/H/S, the first tale of terror we’re given is all about the way an individual perceives the world around them. Wingard stars as a man who has been given an eye transplant that looks awfully familiar to something you would expect from The Terminator, and not long after returning home he realizes the surgery may not have been successful as he originally hoped. It’s a smart idea, but the final product could have used some trimming.
- A Ride In The Park (by Gregg Hale and Eduardo Sanchez) – Possibly the most fun you will have in a single skit, Ride relies on the world’s current fascination with GoPro type cameras to tell a zombie story that is truly original. I think some people who caught The ABCs Of Death earlier this year may see some similarities in the story’s final twist, but this is by far the best zombie short you’ll see this summer.
- Safe Haven (by Gareth Evan and Timo Tjahjanto) – I am not joking when I say this short is amongst the best narratives you will see brought to the silver screen in 2013. Viewers follow a team of TV journalists who investigate a cult under the pretense of doing a straight interview with its leader, but wear hidden cameras to try and get the true story. Things take about 100 unexpected turns and the final results are both horrifying and highly satisfying. This segment alone makes the entire film worth your time, and will in itself inspire throngs of young filmmakers.
- Alien Abduction Slumber Party (by Jason Eisener) – Ever since Hobo With A Shotgun, people have turned to Eisener for all things weird and absurd. This short, while outrageous from a title perspective, is actually one of his more straightforward efforts. That is not to say it’s not still bursting at the seems with lightheartedness, tongue-in-cheek storytelling, and references to the heyday of b-movies, but it also showcases his growth as a filmmaker. A fun and completely satisfactory entry to help round out a stellar collection of work.
Speaking as a horror fan who knows it’s not a genre for everyone, I highly encourage anyone reading this to cancel their evening plans and watch V/H/S/2. This movie is balls-to-the-wall awesome, and it pushes the limits of storytelling and creativity far beyond anything we found in the original. You will cheer, laugh, scream, and then leave only to find a friend unfamiliar with the series so you can watch it again. It’s that good.
Even if V/H/S/3 happens one day, and I sincerely hope it does, V/H/S/2 will live on as one of the greatest horror anthologies of all time. Seriously. Do whatever it takes to see this movie, then find a friend and share it with them. Your life will be better for it and horror will be better for such a film being successful.
Review written by: James Shotwell (Twitter)