We’ve talked a lot about how cool horror anthologies like Creepshow and Trick R Treat can be, but V/H/S caused quite a stir.
Produced by some rather creative horror minds and having a more gritty edge than other similar efforts, it got a warm reception and left audiences feeling suitably shocked and scared.
It was only a matter of time then until a sequel was conceived and this sequel is the imaginatively titled V/H/S2.
Not seeing the first film isn’t a problem as part two works as a standalone.
We’re first introduced to Larry, the main character in our wraparound story. He’s a ruthless private detective that makes a living from tracking people down, filming them in compromising positions, then blackmailing them.
He’s used to taking risks, so nothing seems suspicious this next job, to track down a missing man.
He takes a colleague (Ayesha) with him as they break into a rundown building looking for evidence and the man himself. What they find is a large collection of strange videotapes which are stacked in a viewing room of sorts. The stacks of VHS cassettes contain curious pieces of footage and four of these tapes make up the sub stories in V/H/S/2. It seems only fair to look at them individually, so here’s a bit about each.
Tape 1: Phase – Clinical trials
A man with failing eyesight has a microchip implanted in his head that gives him full vision. However, his sight isn’t just restricted to the mortal realm and soon he begins to see ghastly spirits in and around his home. What’s worse, they’re attracted to him and don’t seem to like him very much. In a tale very reminiscent of The Eye (2002) the man must decide what he wants more, his eyesight or his sanity/life.
Tape 2: A Ride in the Park
A film shot from the perspective of a zombie is a nice idea. And the use of a cycle helmet mounted camera is the ideal way to get such a perspective.
After being bitten by a ravenous member of the undead, a man cycling in some woodland transforms into a flesh eater and goes on a bloody rampage, attacking other cyclists and invading a picnic.
Tape 3: Safe Haven
A group of film makers are eager to shoot a documentary inside the compound of a mysterious cult. Their intention seems to be to expose the members as crackpots, but it turns out that the cult has some pretty serious intentions. During the visit a mass suicide takes place which brings about the arrival of a terrifying demon which, with the help of the reanimated dead, stalks the visitors.
Tape 4: Slumber Party Alien Abduction
While their parents are away a bunch of teenage kids fool around at their coastal home. However, as they play pranks on one another out at sea the crew of an alien craft prepare to invade the shore with the intention of abducting any humans that they encounter.
Cue lots of erratic first person camcorder action and glimpses of menacing slender grey figures.
V/H/S/2 in general
All four films are made using unknown actors and a very limited budget, which is impressive. Each of them is well produced and as far as their overall presentation goes, there are no complaints to be made.
The weaknesses are mainly down to story with the wraparound being too simple, predictable and uninspiring and Pulse being a little too much like The Eye – as mentioned before.
A Ride in the Park and Slumber Party Alien Abduction unfold in real time, so don’t need a narrative. And Safe Haven, which stands out as the best film in the collection, manages to tell an intriguing tale that is as bloody and realistic as it is terrifying.
There’s nothing wrong with Slumber Party, but it’s also not particularly scary either, and the editing and low lighting (during the action) make the frantic found footage tale a little hard to follow.
If you’re a believer in the popular saying ‘you’re only as strong as your weakest link’ then V/H/S/2 is still pretty average, even if I did really enjoy Safe Haven.
V/H/S/2 is an enjoyable but varied experience which demonstrates the advantages and disadvantages of creating a film using a number of different creative contributors. Although the short form stories give an opportunity to distill the content, it’s hard to combine and present them in a way that doesn’t leave them looking unequal where strength and quality is concerned.