Directed by: Simon Barrett & Jason Eisener
Starring: Lawrence Michael Levine, Kelsy Abbott, Adam Wingard et al
Running time: 96 min
Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his house and find a collection of VHS tapes. Viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be dark motives behind the student’s disappearance.
Over Halloween I decided that I needed to watch a horror film of some description so I settled on V/H/S 2, the sequel to last year’s found-footage shocker V/H/S. The premise here is the same as the first film; people enter a seemingly abandoned house and find a bunch of VHS tapes in front of a bank of monitors. Instead of getting the hell out of there like any normal person would do, they decide to watch a few of the tapes, each one containing a very different little mini-movie.
The wrap around segment is probably the least inspiring part of the whole movie, existing solely as a narrative device to showcase the tapes to come, but it does have a certain creep factor with the wall of TVs playing static – which is ALWAYS creepy – as well as an unwelcome guest appearing on the edge of certain shots. But the mini movies make up the bulk of the film, and they don’t disappoint.
The first (Phase 1 Clinical Trials – directed by Adam Wingard) is the most effective scares wise, creating a palpable sense of dread with some well executed jump scares as a man’s eye implant gives him the ability to see dead people. As the implant is also the camera, we see what he sees which ups the fear factor considerably. A Ride in the Park (directed by Blair Witch duo Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale) follows a cyclist with a Go-Pro camera who gets bitten by zombies. From then on in we’re treated to a zombie POV movie which is fun but the idea is more interesting than the execution and crucially, despite being the goriest segment (I loves me some gore), it’s not very scary.
Third up: Gareth ‘The Raid’ Evans and Timo Tjahjanto’s Safe Haven. A documentary crew are invited along to the retreat of a controversial cult to film an unbiased view of their practices. However, once there, things take a turn for the worst as the cult’s true intentions are revealed. Using traditional cameras used by the film crew, CCTV footage and hidden spy cams on the crews’ person we’re given the most possible viewpoints to watch the carnage unfold and all Hell breaks loose, literally. I won’t spoil the film’s surprises but once the poo-poo hits the fan things just go bonkers and the situation goes from bad to worse to even more worse with many unexpected sights and cool visual treats. Again, sadly, it’s not very scary but it is a very well put together spooky vignette.
Lastly we have Slumber Party Alien Abduction which does exactly what is says on the tin. Director Jason Eisener’s short is effective enough even if it’s essentially ‘aliens show up and stalk a group of kids’. There are a couple of superbly set up shots including a water based one that haunted my dreams, the deafening noise that signifies the aliens’ arrival will make you jump every time, and the ‘greys’ themselves – that’s your ‘classic’ aliens; tall, slender, big eyes and grey – are supremely creepy.
If there’s a criticism it would be that it’s a bit too slick given the found footage conceit, and some of the more obvious effects belie it’s grunge-y aesthetic, but overall it’s a decent little scarefest and hopefully there’ll be a V/H/S 3 before too long.