V/H/S 2: B+
Although I’m the resident found-footage expert at Bloodcrypt, I let Bloodcrypt Keeper have a go at reviewing the original V/H/S because I was busy buttfucking a hobo. He did ok, though. Although I probably would’ve gone B-/C+ with the first installment, I couldn’t quibble too much with his assessment of the film’s vignettes.
Usually, when a sequel comes out within a year of its predecessor, it’s a rushed hack job, intended to capitalize on the success of the previous installment (lookin’ at you, Saw franchise). V/H/S 2 actually improves on the formula it established. First of all, the narrative arc binding together the found footage on the tapes is more intelligent and scarier than the first movie. A private investigator and his partner are investigating a teen’s disappearance and enter a seemingly abandoned house with a bunch of computers and vhs tapes.
The original had five mini-movies; this one opts for quality over quantity with four. The characters in the film sit down to watch them, and just as before, they’re a mixed bag. But a better mix this time: more peanuts and cashews, and fewer almonds. Almonds suck.
The first short is about a dude who has ocular surgery due to losing his sight in an accident, and a permanently-running camera implanted in his eye documents his every waking move (cleverly sidestepping the found-footage Achilles heel of “why are you still filming this?”). He starts seeing creepy dead people, and this chick who saw him at the hospital comes over and tells him she had an ear implant (cokeular?…cochlear?…cockular?) and sees the same fucked up shit he does. She tells him not to pay attention to them and then strips off her shirt and rides him, beautiful breasts bouncing. Some other stuff happens after that, but that’s the high point. Anyway, pretty good: B(oobs)
The second vignette puts a unique spin on the current zombie craze. It’s shot almost entirely from the p.o.v. of a mountain biker’s “Go Pro”-style helmet cam. He runs into a bleeding woman in the woods, stops to help, and whoops! He’s a zombie. A zombie with a helmet cam. He and other fellow zombies attack hikers/bikers and then a kid’s birthday party. Flesh-eating ensues, but from an original perspective: B+
In the third clip, shit gets bananas. A t.v. news crew goes to Indonesia to do an exposé on a cult with one of those charismatic leader types. It’s got an underground bunker, classrooms full of creepy kids getting indoctrinated, and, of course, mass suicide. It’s completely bonkers in the best way, and the climax is splendid, when the thing the cult has been worshipping manifests and brings doom. Fucking phenomenal: A
The final story is about some clichéd-looking aliens who invade a slumber party. It suffers from the usual “why are you still filming this?” problem much more than the other vignettes. I have no idea why the filmmakers chose to end with this relative dud, but it robs the movie of a lot of its momentum. It’s still better than the worst stuff in the first V/H/S, but I would’ve put it earlier to get it out of the way: C
According to the main plotline, though, watching the tapes in a certain order is imperative, so maybe the worst one HAD to be last, I dunno. At any rate, this franchise is starting to earn some serious horror street cred. Who knew old tapes could be so scary? Well, other than the ‘90s hairstyles (both above and below) from those old pornos I can’t seem to let go of…