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‘V/H/S/2’ Largely Blah, Save for the Brilliant “Safe Haven”

You know, I think I liked it better when this was called S-VHS. That had a way better ring to it than this messy ass title with all its slashes.

Despite 2012 horror film V/H/S getting somewhat lackluster reviews (it has an average rating of 54% on Rotten Tomatoes), sequel V/H/S/2 has largely been met with praise from critics (88% on Rotten Tomatoes scores it a “fresh” rating). I already knew all this going into my viewing, and since personally I rather liked the original, I was expecting amazing things from this film.

I was wrong. V/H/S/2‘s quality is more or less the same as its predecessor, and it suffers from much the same problems. The shakiness of the found footage was expected, but it was still annoying. Most of the acting was average at best and downright terrible at worst. Some of the later shorts seemed to be more aiming more for torture porn gore-fest than actual horror; I was never frightened, only grossed out. The film did have some great dark humor moments though – I laughed more with this movie than I did with the first.

Overall, I liked the stories in V/H/S way more than I did the ones here. But again, the great thing about horror movies regardless of whether or not they’re good: there are fun morals to learn!

Tape 49/frame narrative

"He's probably passed out in a pile of beer cans. In which case, we're gonna take the kid on a road trip and rack up some expenses, because we're getting a thousand bucks a day on this one." Photos: Bloody Disgusting

“He’s probably passed out in a pile of beer cans. In which case, we’re gonna take the kid on a road trip and rack up some expenses, because we’re getting a thousand bucks a day on this one.” Photos: Bloody Disgusting

The initial set-up of the film is similar to how it was in the original; people are hired to go to a certain address late at night. Whereas in V/H/S, those were asshole delinquents trying to steal a videotape to make some extra cash, here it’s two private investigators looking for some lady’s missing son, a college student who was into some freaky shit.

The PIs – named Larry and Ayesha – wander through the empty house before stumbling across a bunch of TV sets, a VCR, some videotapes, and a laptop. They pursue their own separate lines of investigation, totally unaware that they’re being watched – or that neither of them are likely to make it out of the house alive.

Moral of the story: I actually don’t really have a moral for this one. The things that happened here were all unexpected, unavoidable consequences. I suppose I could say “don’t be a private investigator,” but Larry and Ayesha’s jobs looked like they were awesome… right up until the point where they weren’t.

Phase I Clinical Trials

"Hello? Is somebody down there? Seriously, don't fuck with me."

“Hello? Is somebody down there? Seriously, don’t fuck with me.”

A man gets a highly experimental medical procedure that installs a camera in his eye so he can get his vision back after a bad car accident. His doctor informs him that because this is experimental, they’re going to need to record everything he sees for research purposes, and that he might see some “glitches” in the meantime. Yeah, “glitches” is probably the understatement of the fucking year.

I thought this segment was pretty hilarious, despite it having one of my worst fears – children ghosts, ick. The main character’s attempts to escape from the demonic ghosties by closing and locking his bathroom door and then asking them very nicely to leave him alone made him an endearing protagonist (seriously, did he expect a locked door and a “please and thank you” to keep them out?)

Moral of the story: Never, ever, ever let the government do experimental procedures on you when it involves implanting chips into your body parts. Based upon the thousands upon thousands of science fiction and horror media suggesting that this is a not good very bad thing to do, you’d think people would know this already.

A Ride In The Park

"YOU BETTER RUN! I GOT A BIG FUCKIN' STICK!"

“YOU BETTER RUN! I GOT A BIG FUCKIN’ STICK!”

Mike is going for a morning bike ride through the woods and listening to shitty techno (yeesh, all the people in this film have atrocious taste in music) when a woman comes running up out of nowhere all bloodied up. She begs him to help her boyfriend before collapsing. When Mike turns to face the growling noises coming from the woods behind her, he finds… zombies.

This one bored me. The idea of having the story be from the point-of-view of someone turning into a zombie and then remembering bits of their humanity sounds nice on paper, but it wasn’t executed that well. The camera was nausea-inducing levels of shaky, and a lot of the prosthetics and makeup were laughably bad. The ending where the zombified biker heard his fiancee’s voice was bittersweet and redeemed the storyline for me a little, but overall I was just twiddling my thumbs waiting for it to end.

Moral of the story: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – stay away from nature. Don’t go hiking, or camping, or biking in the woods. Oh, are you an outdoor person? Keep a nice pretty little garden in the city and pretend it’s a forest.

Safe Haven

"This, all you see before you, is temporary."

“This, all you see before you, is temporary.”

A news crew in Indonesia interviews a leader of a cult for a documentary. Even though they’re non-believers, they are eventually allowed an inside look at the cult’s base of operations – what the leader refers to as Paradise Gates. Bad shit happens.

“Safe Haven” is undeniably the best segment in this film – the acting is decent, and the story is gripping. The sheer amount of violence might have been a bit much, but it was still pretty chilling. If only the rest of the shorts were as engaging as this one.

Moral of the story: Cults are bad news. If you’re lucky enough to avoid being born or brainwashed into one, don’t go looking for trouble by poking around an obviously unstable man’s home just so you can make a documentary. It doesn’t matter how much money that doc’s gonna net you – if you’re not alive to spend that cash afterwards there is absolutely no point.

Slumber Party Alien Abduction

"Well, if it isn't Randy Handy the Fuckin' Handjob!"

“Well, if it isn’t Randy Handy the Fuckin’ Handjob!”

Exactly what it says on the tin: there’s a slumber party, people get alien-abducted.

Surprisingly enough, I kinda did like this one. Aliens are my absolute least favorite explanation-of-freaky-occurrences in movies, but there was a decent amount of build up here, and the cast of characters weren’t as annoying as I thought they were going to be. I still laughed my ass off at the ridiculousness of the alien kidnappers, though.

Moral of the story: If you leave your children home alone for the weekend they’re going to trash your house and then get abducted by aliens.

To sum up: though there were some good moments, V/H/S/2 largely left me bored and unentertained. If you want to watch it yourself, the movie is currently available On Demand and on iTunes, and will be released in theaters on July 12th.

three stars

 

  • Starring: Way too many people to list
  • Directed by: Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sánchez, Gregg Hale, Gareth Huw Evans, Timo Tjahjanto, Jason Eisener
  • Running time: 96 minutes
  • Warning for: Violence, nudity, strong language, sexual situations, self-harm, suicide

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