V/H/S/2 (2013)

Who’s Tracking You?

Following the success of Magnet Picture’s and Bloody Disgusting’s 2012 found footage horror anthology V/H/S, producers quickly put together a sequel, hoping it was still fresh enough in audience’s minds to secure another success. This time around they’ve trimmed down the running time and hired a handful of new indie horror directors to try their hand at the found footage genre, including Jason Eisener, Hobo With A Shot Gun (2011), and Edúardo Sanchez, who literally created the found footage genre with his 1999 horror hit The Blair Witch Project. Since this sequel seems to be ‘rushed’ into production, coming out less than a year after its predecessor, one would presume that it’s a step down in the series in terms of both scares and production values. This is certainly not the case with V/H/S/2.

Initially titled S-V/H/S, this anthology begins with a wraparound story about a private investigating couple, Larry (Lawrence Michael Levine) and Ayesha (Kelsey Abbott) who are hired to find a missing student. They eventually break into his apartment in order to find clues for their investigation, there they discover a large number of unmarked VHS tapes, which they sift through and our anthology begins.

The Father (Epy Kusnandar) welcomes the apocalypse with open arms.
The Father (Epy Kusnandar) welcomes the apocalypse with open arms.

Adam Wingard’s Phase 1 Clinical Trials gets the ball rolling with a somewhat creepy ghost story about an accident victim who sees spirits in his new bionic eye; while this segment has some great camera work and a few scares, it unfortunately suffers from being a bit too cliché, relying on basic jump tactics, a lack of any character depth and an uninspired finale. I’m sure more could have been explored had the short lasted a few minutes longer. Next up we have Eduardo Sanchez’s A Ride in the Park where a cyclist wearing a Go-Pro camera drops us head first into the beginning of a zombie outbreak. With enough blood and guts to satisfy most horror nuts and a fun comic vibe, this segment is a rather strong entry in the film and sets the scene for the next tale, which is arguably one of the best horror shorts ever created.

At the film’s half-way mark, Timo Tjahjanto, The ABCs of Death (2012) and Gareth Evans, The Raid (2011), pump the series into full-throttle with their outlandish masterpiece Safe Haven. This segment is the longest entry in the film and clearly the most creative. It follows a team of documentary filmmakers as they enter the headquarters of a bizarre Indonesian cult, Heaven’s Gate, in order to interview its leader, The Father, brilliantly played by Epy Kusnandar, on several child abuse allegations. What follows is a lurid assault on our senses as we are made witness to a hellish nightmare which builds in intensity as the film progresses; the segment finishes off brilliantly with a final shot that is both ‘silly’ yet frighteningly crazy, a scene that’s sure to stick with viewers long after the final credits have rolled. Timo Tjahjanto, who was also responsible for The ABC’s of Death’s wildest entry, L is for Libido is clearly a talent in horror who needs his own feature, as he unmistakably knows how to stretch the boundaries of the genre.

It's all fun and games until someone looses an eye!
It’s all fun and games until someone looses an eye!

Finally, we finish up with an entry that undoubtedly should have been as fun as its title, Jason Eisener’s Alien Abduction Slumber Party. Following the antics of a group of teenagers who invite their friends over while their parents are out of town, this messy section starts off with a lot of energy, but fizzles out as soon as the aliens attack. What follows are a bunch of messy shots, poor camera work (even for a found footage film) and lazy attempts at scares, even the alien effects look sub-par considering what followed.

With both its highs and lows, V/H/S/2 is a clear step up from its predecessor in most regards, while it’s a bit uneven as a whole and more funny than scary, it’s great to see a sequel that’s bolder than most other horror offerings this year; more importantly, any hard-core horror fan will definitely find something to love within this anthology.

3.5 / 5 – Great

Reviewed by Mr. Movie

V/H/S/2 is released through Reel Corporation Australia