I was very happy to hear that the second edition of horror's analog anthology V/H/S 2 was playing Fantasia while I was there.
A couple of private detectives hired to find a missing person are led to a house filled with old television sets and piles of VHS tapes. Looking for possible leads, they begin to watch them and potentially unspool their doom.
I found V/H/S 2 to be a little more consistent than its predecessor and a pretty successful venture. It seemed like everybody was on the same page this time around, with four out of the five contributors presenting an apocalypse scenario. It also didn't feel as long as the first movie, which was likely not only due to the shorter running time, but also that the strongest shorts were in the middle here, instead of the book-ends of the first installment.
So, let's break this one down, shall we? The opening story entitled “Clinical Trails – Phase 1” was directed by the only returning filmmaker from V/H/S, Adam Wingard (You're Next). This one features a man – played by Wingard himself – whose recently implanted cornea comes with the terrifying side effect of being able to see ghosts. Wingard's entry was fairly well done and had some good scares, but I feel like this ground was covered more successfully in the Pang Brothers' 2002 film The Eye.
|Spirits abound in Adam Wingard's "Clinical Trails - Phase 1"|
The second short was Eduardo Sanchez's (Lovely Molly) “A Ride In The Park”, which shows a man's leisurely forest bike ride turn into a nightmare. I thought this was a simple, yet fresh take on the zombie genre that sort of played like an extension of Ben Wheatley's ABC's of Death short, U is for Unearthed. It was very well executed, but considering it was done by the man who basically birthed – or at least popularized – the “found footage” subgenre with The Blair Witch Project, this really shouldn't be a surprise at all.
Up next, was “Safe Haven” by the pairing of Timo Tjahjanto (Macabre) and Gareth Evans (The Raid), about a news camera crew that travels to a religious compound to interview their enigmatic leader. This was by far the best of the bunch. The combination of Tjahjanto's effed-up sensibilities with Evans' technical prowess was truly a sight to behold. They were able to create distinct characters and promote a tangible sense of dread and escalation in an incredibly short amount of time. There was so much going on in this short, it was almost as if they were thumbing their noses at the other contributors.
|Epy Kusnandar as Father in Tjahjanto & Evans' "Safe Haven"|
Last, but not least, was Jason Eisener's (Hobo With A Shotgun) short “Slumber Party Alien Invasion”, which is pretty self explanatory. It was the only short that actually boasted a sense of humour and I appreciated that by the end. However, that didn't stop it from sporting some genuinely creepy images. I think the tone justifies its position as the last story, even though Safe Haven would've been a hell of a way to cap things off. However, I do have to admit that Slumber Party was the only entry that felt a little unfinished though.
|Otherworldly visitors from Jason Eisener's "Slumber Party Alien Invasion".|
The wraparound construct called “Tape 49”, was provided by writer Simon Barrett in his first foray into directing. I found this a much better concept overall than the previous one, which felt more like an afterthought after its setup, and liked how it played out.
|Kelsy Abbott as Ayesha in Simon Barrett's "Tape 49".|
V/H/S 2 was a solid anthology made by an exciting group of filmmakers. I remain a fan of this project and if Brad Miska and company choose to continue making them, I'll keep on watching them.