Movie Review: V/H/S/2 (2013)

V/H/S/2 Movie Review

Now and then you come across a movie that leaves you thinking about it for days or even weeks afterward. After hearing about V/H/S from some friends of mine, I decided to pick that bad boy up. It was good. Totally good. It was one of those movies you start discussing immediately with your friends, going over all the “that was fucking sweet”s and “dude, what if”s. It was a found-footage style movie and, unlike so many movies today, there was a mystery to it. Well, this is about the sequel, V/H/S/2. So if you were expecting to read how awesome the predecessor was, look somewhere else. Or just watch it. Seriously dude.

This edition starts off like the original with a framing device for the real stars of the movie: the short films themselves. In typical “why are they filming all of this shit? Who does that?” fashion, we see our private detective explaining why he and his girlfriend (partner? maybe?) need to break into the creepy old house. They find a similar set up to the viewing room in the original V/H/S. It’s fairly barren but stacked with old CRT televisions and, of course, a VCR or twelve. The biggest difference is the addition of a laptop with a video recorded by the college age guy they’d been hired to find. As the private eye goes to explore the rest of the house his partner curiously plays the first video…

V/H/S/2 Phase 1 Clinical Trials

PHASE 1 CLINICAL TRIALS

Director and star, Adam Wingard, plays a dude. The film starts with him opening his new bionic eye for the first time, with the doctor explaining that everything is being recorded for research purposes. Later in the movie he claims it was a car accident that cost him his eye but it doesn’t sound very convincing. You really just get the feeling he was fucking around with a Red Ryder BB gun, but that’s beside the point. He arrives home and starts to see weird things with the new eye. That’s the point.

I would like to see a ghost movie like this as a full length feature. To me, it seems to be based on the idea of EVP (I’m not explaining that. Look it up if you don’t know), with technology picking up the supernatural. Only now the technology is implanted directly into eyes and ears. However, that concept and being able to explore that concept in a full feature is simply interesting to me, not scary. While some who do get scared a bit easier than I do might find this film frightening, I find that I goddamn hate jump scares.

Accompanying the sight of every ghost is some high pitched digital shriek or something. It’s loud and when you begin to notice it, it’s annoying. I know audiences are a kind of desensitized to things but jump scaring them any time you want that reaction is just a crutch and not truly scary.

V/H/S/2 A Ride in the Park

A RIDE IN THE PARK

V/H/S had 10/31/98. V/H/S/2 has A Ride in the Park. It’s the comic relief. God, at least I hope it was supposed to be.

Well, we see a guy who loved riding bike to the point at which he’ll mount a camera on his handlebars and helmet. I’m not sure why. No more than a minute or two into his ride, he encounters a woman in distress. As he attempts to help her, he gets that certain doom we all know only a machete will help: the bite of a zombie. And with his helmet still nice and snug, we get to see a day in the life of a zombie.

I thought it was a great idea. What does a zombie see? I just tried to come up with more questions than that, but I couldn’t. Sorry. And to answer that question, what a zombie sees isn’t all that interesting. At least not this one. However we learn that even though he’s dead he still has a heart. Awww-BORING. Moving on.

V/H/S/2 Safe Haven

SAFE HAVEN

What’s your stance on subtitles? As long as they don’t move to fast, I’m for ’em. This one’s set in Indonesia, soooo… Indonesian imagine. It’s also worth noting that thanks to a variety of different cameras and their uses, you don’t always feel as though you’re watching a found footage film.

A news crew is interviewing the leader of a religious cult and in the process asks if they would be able to finish the interview at his compound and show people that it really isn’t as terrible as everyone assumes. The leader agrees and the day everyone arrives for shooting is a pretty important day indeed. You sort of notice the dynamic amongst the reporter, producer, camera guy, and tech guy: they all sort of don’t like each other to fair degree. So while little oddities in the cult pop up here and there, the crew gets split up and all hell breaks loose.

EASILY the best movie in a movie of movies, Safe Haven shows those wacky cultists and what happens when they’re right. The result is fucking terrifying — as if cults weren’t scary enough. On second viewing of this particular story, you may notice some subtle performances after you know the whole story about what is happening within the news crew. This one made up for the lack of excitement in the previous two shorts.

V/H/S/2 Slumber Party Alien Abduction

SLUMBER PARTY ALIEN ABDUCTION AKA: I WANT TO WATCH YOU SEIZE ON THE FLOOR AND SHIT YOURSELF

How could this not be a scary movie? Brother (I learn very few character names because I have a hard enough time learning real people’s names) is having his friends over and sister’s boyfriend is over for s-e-x while mom and dad are out of town for the weekend. It’s all fun and games until aliens show up.

I actually liked watching everyone’s shenanigans before things got serious. It’s believable that the boys would be filming everything because kids do that. They’re like home movies you don’t mind watching because they’re hilarious. The one shot of the aliens before the aliens actually showed up was great because dealing with horror in the day light can be worse than the night. However, I didn’t know what the title was before watching it and thought we’d be dealing with sea monsters. I have to admit I’d like to have seen that.

This one was fairly good despite the insane lighting anytime the aliens show up. It’s cool for a short while, but it’s also relied upon way too heavily. There was one major problem I had that I’ll address at the very end of the article to avoid spoilers.

Overall, V/H/S/2 stands out from other horror movies. It’s still unique even among other found footage movies. It only comes close to V/H/S thanks to Safe Haven, but is still a good watch as “this one movie I heard about” and a nice change from the classics you’re going to be seeing on every channel through the month of October. I like that nothing is really revealed about why these tapes exist, where they come from, and why they make the person obsessed with them live like some sort of psychotic 1980’s video god. I’d actually like to see another sequel or two before the idea gets tired. I’d also like to see a movie based on the phenomena surrounding the tapes themselves in the V/H/S universe with lead Mulder and Scully types. Just wishing out loud here.

Beyond nitpicking through the single stories themselves, I wasn’t digging the fact that these films didn’t look like they were shot on VHS. The quality was far too clean for a movie titling itself after an outdated technology. And now for the big spoiler I was talking about:
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Think about your crush!
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Make a wish!
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DON’T FUCKING KILL THE DOG. Slumber Party Alien Abduction did the one thing that pissed me off in the entire movie, and they killed the dog. Yeah, I’m sure the dog isn’t really dead. And yes, I watched all of the shitty extras and I know it was a puppet with a camera on it most of the time. My friends will actually be able to say, in no uncertain terms, I screamed “YOU MOTHERFUCKERS” at the television when the aliens hit the dog. But the moment you saw the dog stop shivering and stopped hearing him whimper I had nothing but fuck yous for whoever made that decision. You pull heartstrings by making actors act and writing characters the audience relates to and cares about. But instead they killed the dog. Everyone else decided it would be cool to shoot heads off, pull organs from bodies and allow dead bodies to morbidly scramble around and I had a great time. But then the dog died. Shitheads.

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