V/H/S 2 tries to keep up the breakneck pace set by its predecessor both on screen and off. Served up mere months after the release of the original, there was talk of this ‘even crazier’ sequel while the directing team from part one were still plugging their installment. News that a bloodier follow up was already in the can was reassuring for horror fans. Based on an anthology concept by Bloody-Disgusting.com’s co-founder and editor-in-chief Brad Miska, V/H/S challenged a handful of the hottest directors going to try and get you to ruin your track record for not wetting the bed. Part two recruits a new dream team of directing talent and charges them with the same brief, this time with a slightly higher budget. Needless to say, expectations were high.
This new tape transports us once again to the same seedy underworld seen in part one, as shady private investigator Larry and his female accomplice Ayesha secretly film a cheating hubby through a motel window. They’ll use the incriminating footage to blackmail him later but first they’re onto a bigger job – the search for a student who has mysteriously disappeared. The trail leads them to a seemingly deserted house, littered with VHS tapes and lit only by the blaring white noise of vacant TVs. While Larry inspects the dark corners of the house, Ayesha starts working her way through the various tapes in search of clues. Instead what she finds is a series of amateur shot micro-stories each more sinister than the last which like the BBFC often suggest, may have a harmful effect on the viewer…
Director Adam Wingard returns to helm and stars in the first segment, following a clinical trial participant who starts seeing ghostly visions through his new robotic eye. And not the friendly Bruce Willis type, either. Gregg Hale and The Blair Witch Project co-creator Eduardo Sanchez flip the bordering-on-tired zombie genre on its head by strapping a Go Pro camera to, well, its head. You’ll never look at Undead dinnertime in the same way again. Safe Haven by The Raid’s Gareth Evans and genre up-and-comer Timo Tjahkanto gets the bulkiest run time, following a documentary team infiltrating a religious cult at the moment their dark beliefs are realised. Meanwhile, Jason Eisner’s Slumber Party Alien Abduction does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s perhaps the most alluring and deeply chilling of the bunch but fails to fully deliver the goods by ending at an opportune moment.
The five tales on show here all display flecks of genius while raising the believability bar of hand-held horrors to new heights. That said, they don’t quite manage to capture the insane ferocity of the first, often shying away at crucial moments and at times feeling just a little watered down. Still, with enough creativity and raw talent on board to best any mainstream horror, these gripes seem minor. This is a rich world and while another installment is pretty much an inevitability, here’s hoping it’s not rushed. Third time’s a charm, right?
Originally published on Horrortalk.com.