Sunday, 9 June 2013
When you've essentially got five teams working on five different short films, it's easy to get stuff done fast. Thanks to this V/H/S/2, the sequel to my favourite horror of the past few years (V/H/S), is here less than a year after the original and it hasn't suffered too abdly for it.
These films are taking us back to an old style you don't see too often any more: the horror anthology. V/H/S/2 follows pretty much exactly the same format as the first: there's a central story about some people being duped into going to a house and finding a bunch of random ass VHS tapes (despite being set right now). They pop the tapes in and we get a bunch of short films breaking up the central story.
Again, the framing story is the weakest of the lot. It doesn't really need to be strong at all though, seeing as it just functions as an excuse to play a bunch of short found-footage type films. I will say though, in the first we were given a reason to believe the guys in the central story deserved to be in this fucked up situation, but in this one they just seem to be good people getting fucked with for no real reason.
As for the feature shorts, there's a range of quality.
The first ("Phase I Clinical Trials") is pretty much your standard ghost story and easily the most disappointing of the bunch. It's pretty well made, and there's an interesting backstory that's alluded to but otherwise it's just pretty standard and has really predictable jumpscares. Not to mention the instance of completely out of the blue gratuitous nudity. I mean, I'm an insane Game of Thrones fan, so gratuitous nudity isn't a problem for me, but in this it's comes out of the blue and for no real reason other than tits.
With the start of the second film ("A Ride in the Park") my stomach sank and my eyes rolled. I won't spoil what it is, but it's a monster invasion that's been done to undeath so much these past few years. Luckily for me, it continues past the point where you'd expect the run-of-the-mill version to and actually becomes a fresh, fun take on something quite tired.
"Safe Haven" in slot three is the highlight of V/H/S/2. If the first film didn't have Amateur Night, Safe Haven would be the highlight of the series so far. Gareth Evans, director of the massively acclaimed action film The Raid: Redemption, throws a news crew into a commune of an apocalyptic death cult during the climax of their doomsday prophecy. Things get very crazy very, very quickly. It just keeps escalating and getting more and more intense until it gets so messed up even some of the victims can't help but just laugh at the sheer ridiculous brilliance.
Coming in last is the very efficiently titled "Slumber Party Alien Abduction". Yeah, it pretty much does exactly what it says on the tin. It's a very 90s styled throwback that knows what it is and just decides to have a bit of fun with it.
Overall, the film feels a lot less coherent than its predecessor. The first film was incredibly tight and despite having a handful of directors had very clear themes running throughout but the sequel just feels like a bunch of, seemingly random, short horror films from all over the genre. It's still a very good example of found-footage done right, but if you're left only able to see one for some bizarre reason, go for the first.