Tribeca Film Festival: V/H/S/2 Is More Frightening And Way More Fun Than The First
I'll be honest, I went to see V/H/S/2 because of peer pressure. I had been planning to take in what seems to be a charming foreign film, but friend and fellow blogger Rudie Obias was heading to the found-footage horror anthology instead, and excitedly so. My reluctance to see it was not over the sequel's rumored gore, but because I hated, I mean really, truly, deeply hated V/H/S. When I reviewed it for the film's Blu-ray release, I described it as "a muddled mess of thinly drawn characters, nonsensical narratives, and disturbing misogyny." But the Rudie told me The Raid's director Gareth Evans had contributed a short, so I caved. I'm ecstatic that I did.
Like its predecessor, V/H/S/2 is setup within a framework device that sort of serves as the horror shorts' Master of Ceremonies, repeatedly butting in to introduce the next act. Also like V/H/S, this short is by far the weakest, focusing on some vile crooks who break into a house where they discover a stack of strange VHS tapes. However, V/H/S/2's other shorts are generally stronger, smarter and more ambitious than those we saw the first time around. Plus they boast a sick but entertaining mix of body horror, science fiction, well-teased tension, and of course lots of gore.
My personal favorite short was Evans' "Safe Haven," which follows an investigative journalism film crew into a curious cult. It not only had the kind of insane violence that The Raid revealed last year, but also showed a winking sense of wild humor, and delivered the most satisfying finale. Also strong was writer-director Adam Wingard's "Clinical Trials" which involved a blinded man with an experimental cyborg eye that reveals creepy figures he was previously blind to. The concept was imaginative, and the execution was scary enough that I screamed embarrassingly loud and often. The other two shorts, "A Ride in the Park" and "Slumber Party," are also frightening and fun, though their stories are less developed. All around this was a major improvement over the original, even finding inventive new ways to employ camera coverage (cyborg eye, helmet cam, and puppy cam!) V/H/S/2 is a hell of a good time, and makes me eager to see V/H/S/3, which seems to be teased in this flick's finale.
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