V/H/S/2 (2013)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long

Company:  The Collective

Runtime: 93 mins

Format: Itunes

Plot: Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into a house and find a large collection of VHS tapes. Viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be dark motives behind the student's disappearance.

Review: V/H/S/2 (formally titled the much better S-V/H/S) dropped last night at midnight on the Video on Demand channels and Itunes. I was hoping to stay up and watch it then, but due to time differences, 'dropped at midnight' actually meant about 4:30 am for me, soo... yeah, it kinda had to wait for the following day, plus I then wanted to wait for it to be dark out before I watched it, otherwise what would even be the point, am I right?

Anyway, V/H/S/2 starts on a similar wrap-around story as the first movie. This time around, a private Investigator and his girlfriend are hired to track down and find a missing delinquent teen and their investigation leads them to an old abandoned creepy house, which has contained within it a very large collection of old VHS tapes, of which (like the first movie) the following anthology stories are contained on. Overall this wrap-around segment was actually quite a bit better then the one in the first movie and had some nice genuinely creepy moments within it, as well as acts like an actual proper wrap-around story and doesn't just randomly end midway through the movie like the one in the first movie did. However one aspect of it really grinds my gears and annoyed me quite a bit – The teen they're looking for? Not one of the teens from the first movie's wrap-around segment like I was thinking it would be. The old creepy house he finds? Not the same one as the one in the first movie's wrap-around segment either. Despite being very similar to the first movie's, this movie's wrap-around portion is not related to the first movie's in any shape, way or form, making this movie 100% completely stand-alone and unconnected to the first movie. While I didn't like that portion of the first movie, it still would have been nice (and expected) for this movie to tie into that one in some way, preferably via the wrap-around stories, especially since this one's seems like it was initially written to do just that. Just seems like a pretty big missed opportunity to create a bit of background mythology, especially with a third movie having already been announced.

With that slight disappointment out of the way though, the first of the actual short stories deals with a man that gets a cybernetic eye to replace his lost eye, and the camera for this story comes from inside that eye. For reasons he doesn't understand, that new eye allows him to see ghosts, and he meets up with a girl who underwent the same experimental surgery to get her hearing back and likewise, it's allowed her to hear ghosts. Teamed up and trying to figure out what's going on, the two start getting assaulted by some very nasty ghosts. This story had a pretty great premise, with a few fun scenes and plenty of scares to go around. While it wasn't quite on the same level of unease as the first movie's opening segment, this one had quite a bit of jump scares to keep you on-edge. There are two aspects though that stop it from being great; The acting was distractingly bad, like SyFy Channel Original Movie of the Week level of bad, and was constantly taking me out of the moment and ruining some of the scenes that should have been way scarier then they were due to the acting. In addition, a lack of answers to pretty much anything that's going on also hurt it a bit. With some better actors and more time to fully flesh this segment out, this could have been one of the stronger stories here. As it is, it's still decent thanks to some great jump scares and creepy moments, and I was never bored or wishing it would just end already, but at the same time it's could really have benefited from some tune-ups.

Moving onto the second story, this one has a man with some kind of cam attached to his helmet as he goes for a bike ride in the woods, during which he gets bitten by a zombie and we follow around with him as he becomes a zombie himself and shambles around, attacking other people in the woods. I feel this segment thinks its being revolutionary and doing something new and unique that's never been done before (that's the vibe I get from watching it), however, this exact thing has been done countless times in dozens of homemade youtube videos and student projects that are online. And this version of it does nothing at all to set itself out from the pack and doesn't even attempt to bring anything new to the table. Chances are, even just reading this paragraph right now you can probably tell exactly how this segment plays out and can probably guess every single thing that happens in it, because it's just that generic. I find most anthology movies have an entry that you can just skip and the movie will be better off for you because of it. With the first V/H/S it was the invisible static man killer entry and for V/H/S/2, it's this one.

The middle story of this anthology is probably my top favorite of not only this bunch, but of both movies, and was brought to us by Gareth Evans, the guy who made the excellent The Raid: Redemption. A camera crew shooting a documentary is following a cult leader around on the Eve of the great 'passing over', an event that he and his followers believe will allow them to open the gates to 'Paradise' and cross over into that mythical realm. While this was easily my favorite and I could probably write a full-length review on just this segment alone, it's also the one I feel I should talk about the least just because the less you know about what happens in it, the better. This segment revels in the unexpected, and it should be watched knowing virtually nothing about it in order to get the full effect. All I'll say is that this story goes from 'normal' to 'bat shit WTF insane crazy' in about half of its runtime, and uses the other half to go from 'bat shit WTF insane crazy' to about twenty miles past that, so that by the time this segment is over you almost need to take a break and recuperate your sanity and nerves before moving on to the final story in the movie.

Which while this final story was still pretty good and I enjoyed it, its placement really should have been swapped with the previous one as I feel that would have been a much stronger and way more impactful way to end the movie off. In this last story of the movie, we get a camera attached to a family dog while the foul-mouthed children of said family (which at times pleasantly reminded me a lot of the kids from movies like E.T., The Goonies, and Super 8, among others) play a prank on their older sister and her asshole boyfriend, which is followed by a counter-prank...at least until some white-skinned, black-eyed aliens show up to abduct everyone. There's really not much more to the plot of this one then that, and it's easily the shortest entry of the movie at only 15 minutes long, but as someone who is pretty obsessed with the whole alien/UFO/abduction phenomenon, I found this one pretty damn creepy in its own ways, and it makes me wish for more creepy horror movies to cover ground like this (such as Dark Skies, which did a decent job with a similar plot when that was released earlier this year). As I said previously though, this entry would have fitted much better if it happened earlier in the movie and the previous entry took place here, because as much as I personally liked this one and was pretty creeped out at moments, it doesn't even begin to come close to touching the previous entry, and thus it seems very confusing to me as to why they would place this one as the final short story of the movie as it's very much a one-note, simple, cookie cutter entry that, honestly, not a whole lot happens in it and it kind of just peeters out instead of ending on a bang like the last one. Then again, at only 15 minutes long, that doesn't really leave much room for many things to happen.

In my review of the first movie, I stated that one of the biggest faults for some of the individual stories was that there just wasn't enough time for the subject matter and a couple of them could have benefited greatly from a slightly longer runtime. The exact same can be said for some of these entries as well, which is made even more frustrating this time by the fact that it's a much shorter movie to boot. Granted, it has one less short story then the first movie did, but they could have used that as the perfect opportunity to fill in that missing space by extending the length of each of these stories by an extra ten minutes each (except for that stupid zombie one) instead of just shortening the overall movie's runtime. My biggest complaint about most of these stories is just that, much like with the final story of the first movie, there's just not enough time allowed for the subject matter, and just about each one could have benefited from being given slightly more screen time.

Luckily that's the only thing about the first movie that's made worse, however that mixed with the utterly confusing decision to make a very similar-but-not-connected wrap-around story, the placement of some of these stories, and that terrible zombie segment does lower my score of this one a bit. But that's ok, because unlike the first, there's plenty of score to go around here. Most of the short story segments were vastly improved from the ones in the first movie (With the exception of that zombie one, which I could have done without) making this movie an overall improvement over the first, and since it's in no way connected to it other then in name-only, you can even skip that one and just move right on to watching this much-better version of essentially the same movie. Plus, between abducting aliens, zombie viruses, killer ghosts, and Chaos Death Cults (among a few other surprises in there) there's such a wide range of horror movie topics here that pretty much everyone will find something to love.

Now if you could just take the best segments from V/H/S, and the best segments from V/H/S/2, and mix them together into their own anthology movie (and make sure they're put in an order that makes sense), then we'd have a really nice and solid horror anthology film.

7/10 rooms in the Psych Ward


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