When I initially watched the 2012 horror short anthology V/H/S, I had a fairly mixed reaction, like most critics. That is, however, to be expected when viewing anthologies. Especially ones that vary in content as much as V/H/S. Ultimately, though, I did enjoy the movie as shlock more than anything else.
V/H/S/2 delivers more of the same but offers something different and, fortunately, superior. To those unfamiliar, the V/H/S films are horror collections in which random characters are paid to break into homes and go through bizarre videotapes. Unlike the first film, there are only four segments to V/H/S/2 (five if you count “Tape 49.”) The first movie suffered greatly from overcrowding. By cutting down on the amount of entries in this sequel, V/H/S/2 immediately takes a step in the right direction.
I’m going to skip over the wrap-around story, “Tape 49″, simply because it’s really not even worth mentioning. It fails to live up to the prior film’s prologue/epilogue and honestly is the worst part of the movie. If there is ever a V/H/S/3 (and I suspect there will be) then I’d advise the filmmaker(s) helming it to avoid this cliche and just get into the horror shorts.
Adam Wingard’s “Clinical Trials Phase 1” is the first of the four part collection and it is undoubtedly the weakest. Everything feels forced, rushed, and the ‘sight gags’ don’t really work. Being privy to ghosts through an implanted eye is an interesting concept, but it wears off once we’re shown the unimpressive, very typical looking undead.
Eduardo Sánchez’s “A Ride in the Park” was a step up from Wingard’s “Clinical Trials”, though plodding. I really liked the fact that we were given the perspective of a zombie for once and I thought the concept was well executed. Though the short could’ve benefited greatly from having 5-10 minutes shaved off for pacing, it’s still decent as a whole.
Gareth Evans’s “Safe Haven” was the short I was most looking forward to when going into V/H/S/2. I’d heard much praise about it from pre-screening reviews and was excited to finally get to it. Evan’s “Safe Haven” delivers, yes, but gets a bit too over-the-top for my taste. It’s like Evans had a brilliant and genuinely creepy idea for a short and was forced to make it more ‘horrory’ for the sake of the film, so he just went completely crazy and added a half-dragon/half-goat creature. Spoiler alert… Anyway, up until the last 5/6 minutes or so I really loved this short. I only wish it had been focused in an alternate direction.
Jason Eisner’s “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” is probably the most well rounded of the four shorts. We’re given a startling, captivating, and fun story from a unique perspective with humorous characters that you can get behind. On top of that, it’s not littered with shitty CGI or any story-killing elements. In an odd way it also captures an authentic Amblin feel, despite its dark overtones. Something that J.J. Abrams’s Super 8 failed at in 2011. Completely enjoyable entry.
In the end, I would recommend V/H/S/2 to any horror fan. It’s a fun little collection of shorts that is sure to entertain. Each of the four stand distinctly apart and gradually get better as progression is made. It may have its flaws but V/H/S/2 is a definite improvement over the original.
Overall Rating: B+