Friday, October 31, 2014

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

V/H/S/2 (Review)
United States/Indonesia/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"...packed to the rim with tension, jump-scares, and plenty of gore."

Two private investigators search for a missing college student. In the seemingly abandoned home, they find several VHS tapes with disturbing content...

Like it's predecessor, V/H/S/2 is an anthology horror film. The frame story follows this pair as they investigate the disappearance, primarily by watching the tapes in the home. “Phase 1 Clinical Trials” follows a man who receives an ocular implant with supernatural abilities – this is a great jump-scare horror film. “A Ride In The Park” follows a cyclist who runs into a hysterical woman and soon finds himself surrounded by zombies – a fun and funny story, but not frightening. “Safe Haven” follows a news crew as they infiltrate a cult and interview its leader – the best story in the film with a superb climax. “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” is pretty self-explanatory – it's another fun jump-scare horror film, but suffers from some minor technical flaws.

I enjoyed every story in this film. The frame story is creepy and effective, and it leads to a surprising ending. “Phase 1 Clinical Trials” is original and exciting. I saw this film last summer and the jump-scares were still effective today – that's a great accomplishment for a film that almost fully relies on jump-scares. “A Ride In The Park” is a little disappointing in retrospect. Each story is frightening and exciting, and this film is a change in mood – not a bad film, but it is certainly different and probably misplaced. “Safe Haven” is my personal favorite. In fact, it's one of my favorite stories from any horror anthology. A great concept, great suspense and tension, plenty of terror and gore, and fantastic acting. The film ends on a somewhat fun note with “Slumber Party Alien Abduction.” The story has great jump-scares and some decent humor, but, let's face it, no one wants to watch a dog bloodied and crying – even if it is fake.

The acting is mostly decent – that's being generous. Some of the cast sound completely out of place, so unnatural. The only story with great acting is “Safe Haven.” The annoying found-footage flaws from the first film have been fixed for the most part. Except for “Slumber Party Alien Abduction,” I did feel nauseous at all. It's a much more technically stable film than the first, so if the first made you sick due to the shaky-cam, give this one a try. The special effects are great, too, I really enjoyed the practical effects. The writing and direction is great for each story. Each writer and director in this anthology helped revitalize my interest in the sub-genre. Adam Wingard and Gareth Evans standout with their exemplary direction and writing – the writing obviously more notably for Evans.

Overall, V/H/S/2 is a fantastic horror anthology. It's packed to the rim with tension, jump-scares, and plenty of gore. The stories also give life to an otherwise stale sub-genre. (i.e. found-footage) It's a better film than the original by every standard. In fact, this is how you make a sequel. I don't quite rank it up with my favorite horror anthology, Trick R' Treat, which I watched and reviewed last Halloween, but it's a fantastic film to follow-up on it.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, some sex and full-nudity.

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