I’m conflicted about anthology films. On the one hand, there’s not enough time to build up the story, characters don’t usually have proper arcs. On the other hand, more stories, things escalate at a much quicker rate, and in this case, more horror!
I didn’t really like the original V/H/S, but they’ve really tightened the sequel. And the best part is, you don’t even have to wade through the first to appreciate the second.
There are 5 stories, including the framing story, and at a running time of 96 minutes, we’re given slightly less than 20 minutes per story:
Two private investigators take on a case of a missing college student. On entering the student’s home (at night, of course), they find a stack of VHS tapes, as well as a still recording video on it. The man goes to explore the house for clues, and he instructs the lady to plow through the tapes to see if there’s anything useful in locating the boy.
This sets up the story, and it is through this method that we’re exposed to the other stories. The payoff for this framing narrative naturally comes right at the end.
Phase I Clinical Trials
After a horrible accident that leaves a man’s right eye blind, he undergoes a new implant technology that restores his eyesight with a camera. In return, the camera will record everything he sees for research purposes.
If you’ve seen either version of The Eye, you’ll know what happens next. A “bug” in the camera-eye results in the young man starting to see things that go bump in the night.
He then meets a young woman who’s also recently undergone a similar operation for her ear…
Can they survive this together? Well, where’s the fun in that?
A Ride in the Park
This segment is filmed using a Go-Pro mounted camera, and is a POV-styled segment on a cyclist taking his bike for a spin in the park. Things quickly go south, and I think for the first time in cinematic history, we actually get a zombie POV short! I actually enjoyed this segment the most, because it’s mainly a lot of fun.
A film crew gets invited into an Indonesian cult to film a documentary about what the cult does behind their closed doors. Unfortunately for them, the founder of the cult has other plans.
In terms of scope and jaw-drop factor, I think this one takes the cake.
Slumber Party Alien Abduction
This is exactly what the title says, which sounds awesome, but I felt was the weakest link in all the stories. Not quite sure why this was the last story in the entry, cos it sort of brought down the highs from ‘Safe Haven’, and almost let the entire film down with a whimper.
The shaky cam was employed too much, the action too dark, and the sound too drowning, that half the time, I didn’t know what was happening.
Still, on an overall, we got 2 decent stories, 2 awesome ones, and a forgettable dump.
That’s still pretty good in my books!
But seriously, if they were to produce a third offering, they should consider naming it DVD. At the very least.