In 2012 VHS was released and it was pretty good. It had a nice concept of a bunch of robbers watching a collection of tapes that have they own horror series. The movie was well received and naturally due its success a sequel was rushed into production. Is the sequel just as good as the first one? Or rushing the production did more damage than good?
Story – If you’re not familiar with V/H/S story format I will explain it for you. The film starts off with the central story and characters who will be watching the tapes. In the first film we followed a bunch of robbers who were hired by an unknown source to retrieve some tapes that will be brought at top dollar. In the sequel we follow a pair of private investigators investigating a case of a disappearance of a young student. Once they enter the home of the student, they discover a pile of various videotapes which they hope will have some clues to the boy’s whereabouts. In pure V/H/S form these tapes are anything but normal. Each tape is a tale of horror written and produce by a different writer and director. Since this movie has a different storytelling format. I will review each tape one by one and then give an overall score of the movie.
Tape 1: Clinical Trials Phase 1
“Clinical Trials” follows a man who recently got eye surgery to repair the eye that he lost in a car accident. However the surgery he has undergone is one of the first ever. The eye replace has a camera place inside it for researching purposes. Everything the man does and I mean everything will be monitored by the doctor and his research team. As the man gets accustomed with his new eye, he is told by the doctor that it will contain some glitches but he shouldn’t worry. However the glitch in the new eye turns out to be having more harm than good, as he starts to see the paranormal in his home and around him. The story is a nice kick off to the concept of V/H/S, unfortunately “Clinical Trials” is very cliché and will remind horror fans of the horror movie “The Eye” the same concept, but executed poorly if we were to compare the two. Clinical Trials doesn’t really explain anything story-wise. Why are the paranormal after this guy? Why haven’t these souls move on? They introduce a girl who had a similar surgery as the protagonist, but she is not explained or flushed out enough for you to care. While the story is lacking it does succeed in a couple of jump scares. Clinical Trials provides some fairly intense scenes but it doesn't last as the ending will leave you with an this is it moment. Believe it or not this is one of the better shorts in this film.
Tape 2: A Ride in the Park
"A Ride in the Park" follows the story of a biker who encounters the beginning of the zombie apocalypse while on his regular routine ride. The story is told through the perspective of a zombie, which left it the story to appear boring, flat and something you won't get invested in. While it's nice to see the zombie apocalypse from the zombies eyes or a person that turned, it leaves you really not caring because you have no emotional connection with the character. Zombies don't feel anything, don't say anything so you can't really connect with them. This tape was the weakest out of the four and the least entertaining one.
Tape 3: Safe Haven
"Safe Haven" follows a news team documenting a cult group and their activity. This is the most disturbing, creepy, entertaining story in this entire movie. Safe Haven has it all, great performances, a creepy setting and enough backstory on characters for you to care about the fate of them. Personally there is nothing more scarier to me than a cult that is run by one man who claims he take his followers to the promise land. That is what you see in "Safe Haven." However while this might be the best and creepiest story in the entire movie, it does have one big problem that will take all reality it was going. The ending of this tape kind of ruins all the build up, the set up of that it was going for. It's one of those endings and twist that was executed so poorly that if it had a bigger budget it would've been forgiving, however it comes off as cheap and ridiculous and a better ending should have been written.
Tape 4: Slumber Party Alien Abduction
"Slumber Party Alien Abduction" follows a group of teenage boys having a sleep over being watched by a sister and boyfriend. The teenage boys are prankster playing pranks, joking around on the sister and her boyfriend until they get unexpected visitors knocking on the door. This one is a pretty generic alien abduction short, but it is done pretty well. The use of lights, sound and first person perspective turns generic to flat out good. There is a some creepy jump scares, especially involving in the water that will have you really intense. The characters are not developed enough, but however it's done well for you to hope that these kids will survive the night, this was the second best tape in the film.
Acting - The acting is range from good to medicore. However with no real story or chance to develop characters it's hard for an actor to give they best performances. The acting is nothing memorable, and you can't expect Oscar caliber acting in a horror movie. The actors do what they can and for the most part they are convincing in their performances.
Music and Film-Making - Most of the films shorts are short from the first person perspective. You see everything through the character's eyes. For the most part it works very well and makes the jump scares more intense because it comes unexpectedly. The flaw of the first person perspective is sometimes the camera gets shaky in some shorts, which will make the film appear to be amateurish. It's not a bad thing but sometimes it takes away from the intensity of the moment.
Final Thoughts - "V/H/S 2" could have been just as good as the first one if it wasn't rushed. Some of the endings of the shorts are totally going left wing from the original pace it started from, there are way too much use of zombies that are just thrown in there for the sake of having zombies. On the other side of the coin it provides a few scares, the "Safe Haven" story is a must watch and it is entertaining and doesn't over stay it's welcome.