Portmanteau-a-go-go #36 – V/H/S/2 (2013)

We quite enjoyed watching the original V/H/S, which was a five part anthology with a linking story that saw a group of men in a house being exposed to a series of creepy short films.  The overall quality was variable of course, I mean that’s what portmanteaus are all about, but the main knock on the film was that the linking story never really resolved.

Well, that and the overall feel of the film was a bit grubby and unpleasant with a slightly exploitative feel.  But it was popular and reasonably successful and has spawned three follow-ups so before we get into the two latest ones, we thought we’d rewatch V/H/S/2 from 2013.

The main linking story (Tape 49) follows Larry, a private investigator, and his girlfriend, Ayesha, as they look into the disappearance of a student.

When they break into Kyle’s home, they find a similar set up to V/H/S‘s linking story, Tape 56, with several TV screens untuned and showing static, while a set up of VHS players and tapes litter the floor.  However, the films this time are watched, by Ayesha, on a laptop.

What we can say is that even though the acting in this story is terrible, it is an improvement over the Tape 56.  Mainly because it actually delivers some scares and has a definitive ending.

Phase 1 Clinical Trials

This tale follows Herman Middleton from a unique perspective.  The camera this time is in his prosthetic eye which he’s been implanted with following an accident.  It’s still very much experimental tech though, so Herman is informed that they’ll be recording everything.

We see this entire story from his perspective as he returns home following the surgery and after chilling out and playing video games, things start to go awry for him with as things initially start moving around when he’s not in the room.  But things get much worse when he starts to see dead people.

This is a strong opening story which borrows from The Sixth Sense more than a little but is strong enough in its own right to stand alone.  There’s not much expert filmmaking required to pull off these scares and the concept really does do most of the work (although with Adam Wingard behind the camera, the story is in very safe hands) but the actors do a good job of selling it and, to be honest, we were quite creeped out by it all.

A Ride in the Park

Another found footage effort, this is a fun short that sees a cyclist caught up in the middle of a zombie outbreak.  What’s fun about it is that most of it is seen from the perspective of a zombie and the story does well to stick the ending quite cleverly too.

We’re not huge fans of zombie films but we do appreciate a different take on the subject and this story delivers.  It can look a little cheap, thanks to the helmet-mounted cameras, but it’s a decent little short that delivers some fun scares and gore.

Safe Haven

With The Raid’s Gareth Evans on co-writing and co-directing duties, you might be expecting quite a lot from Safe Haven and that’s kind of what you get.  This story follows a film crew that is filming a documentary about a cult known as Paradise Gates, led by a man known as ‘Father.’

However, the deeper they delve into the cult, the worse things go for them and before long the crew are attacked by the cult members and then… well, we’ll let you watch it to find out.

There’s so much going on here that it did feel a little bit all over the place but some of the sequences are brilliantly done and there’s a real sense of menace throughout the story.  It’s not much fun to watch but it’s certainly unsettling.

Slumber Part Alien Abduction

Another story, another camera.  This time it’s attached to a dog.  Anyway, this story focuses on a group of kids who are staying at a lake house along with one of their older sisters and her boyfriend.

Initially this just starts out as the younger kids harassing the older ones until, as the name suggests, suddenly alien invaders appear and start targeting the kids for abduction.  Now obviously this means a lot of running around and shaky camera footage, so really it’s probably the weakest of the stories on offer but the ending isn’t too bad and it’s not a terrible short in its own right.

Tape 49

Throughout V/H/S/2 we’ve been seeing Larry and Ayesha, and this linking story really develops well.  Between each story we revisit the pair and along the way the tapes start affecting both of them in very negative ways, leading to some serious consequences for the pair.

It’s really well done though and between the dark atmosphere of Kyle’s home and the shocking events that occur, Tape 49 really left us freaked out which is exactly what you want from a horror film!

So overall, this turned out to be a bit of a surprise.  It’s a little hit and miss, as you’d expect, but it’s mostly good and there’s going to be something for every horror fan her.  We think that maybe this one is just a tad better than the original and we liked that one too.

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