Directed By: Simon Barrett, Jason Eisner, Adam Wingard, Gareth Evans & Timo Tjahjanto, Gregg Hale & Eduardo Sanchez
Sequels are tricky things. Horror sequels are even trickier. Pick any horror sequel and it’s more than likely just more of the same. More sex, more gore, more everything. V/H/S/2 isn’t alone in that regard, but it’s one occasion where “more” has worked out in its favour. Even being a sequel to an anthology, where there’s no characters to bring back or lip service to be paid to fans can backfire, just look at Creepshow 2 or even worse Creepshow 3. Clearly they missed a trick by not calling it S-VHS but it makes up for it in other ways.
There’s no continuation from the original movie, but the set-up is similar. Two private investigators are asked to investigate a disappearance. They check the address they’re given and find signs that someone was recently there, and they’ve left behind a stack of cassette tapes. If you read this yesterday I’m sure you know how it works…
There’s more confidence to the entries this time, more inventiveness and new reasons for the POV camera. In the first (And worst) segment a man has his eye replaced in an experimental procedure (In which the eye records everything it sees) and begins to see things he probably shouldn’t. In the final segment a camera is strapped to a dog for the majority of the running time. It’s also a brighter movie too. In the original most segments took place at night, wherein this time it’s during the day. More than anything there’s the sense of the filmmakers just having fun and using the format to their advantage.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Gareth Evans segment “Safe Haven” in which a television news team are allowed inside a cult compound. Just when you think you know where it’s going to go, Evans takes it somewhere very different indeed and delivers one of the strangest and inventive stretches of film I’ve seen in a long time. Once it picks up (And it does early on) it’s just relentless. I had a total blast with it.
Aside from the aforementioned first segment the others work well. The Blair Witch Project Co-Director Eduardo Sanchez delivers a first-person Zombie movie that works despite me being completely tired of the genre, and shows that just a little inventiveness goes a long way. Hobo With A Shotgun Director Jason Eisner delivers the final segment titled “Slumber Party Alien Abduction“. If you can’t tell what that one is about then there’s nothing I can do for you. Seek some help.
The wraparound segment this time opens up the world in an intriguing way. The film doesn’t lean too heavily on any mythology, but instead suggests that the world, if not the movies themselves, are connected – and it has a great final shot. In an ideal world we’d be getting one of these a year or Trick ‘R Treat instead of Saw or Paranormal Activity and given the format you can get Directors from around the world to contribute in some kind of happy horror comune. But maybe that’s just my idea of fun.
I’m not sure if they can top this one with V/H/S/3 but I can’t wait to see them try.