I had almost lost complete faith in the entire found-footage collective until last years release of V/H/S - it had seemed as if there really wasn't anything more that could be done in order to impress an audience outside of nauseating the multitudes with stomach-churning camera work, and inane plot points that were completely devoid of scares. I'm fairly positive that the combination of a solid plot with multiple stories a la Creepshow, is what made the first V/H/S such a cult hit amongst horror fans, and the latest installment is sure to make even the pickiest zealot jump for joy after watching this one.
As we open V/H/S 2, we follow the camera work of 2 private investigators that are on the trail of a missing college student, so like any decent slimy back-alley P.I. would do, they obtain the missing student's address and decide to break into his home in the middle of the night in order to obtain any clues pertaining to his disappearance. Their immediate pronouncements are in the form of a slew of static-riddled TV sets and stacked VCR tapes aplenty. With the insertion of the first tape we begin with the stories.
In "Clinical Trials Phase 1"- we follow the 1st person view of a man that has lost his eye in a car accident, and has been given a test camera placed in a prosthetic eye, which begins to pick up some very frightening visuals, much to the test-subject's misfortune. Story #2 is titled "A Ride in the Park", and takes you along on a mountain biking trek via the riders helmet-cam when it goes horribly awry, and the subsequent gory results (and I mean GORY). My personal favorite of the entire film is story #3, " Safe Haven", where a news crew is visiting a cult-like commune to interview it's spiritual leader as he prepares himself and his "children" for safe passage to the promised gates. This tale is extremely disturbing in the sense that it's exhaustively believable in its subject matter. The gore in this feature is off the wall, and let me just say this in three short words...MASS RITUAL SUICIDE - this yarn will blow your mind !!
Story #4 - "Slumber Party Alien Abduction", is simply what it is described as, but still manages to shock and surprise you with it's fierceness in the presentation, and we round off with tale #5 - "Tape 49", which actually encompasses the entire movie regarding the P.I.'s and the missing college student. You almost find yourself not being concerned with shaky footage, or moronic plot placement, simply because there isn't any - now don't get me wrong, there is a fair amount of cheese with each featurette, but it only adds a lethal dosage of fun to the stories themselves. The gore is copious and without apology, putting you as the viewer, face-first into numerous instances of blood, guts, and some of the many other fluids that are expelled from a human body.
Some scenes are genuinely frightening, while others will make you chuckle with their goofiness, but make no mistake, V/H/S/ 2 is meant to unnerve you as you view it, and for that I applaud all writers and directors of this movie. Simon Barrett & Adam Wingard are the two lone returnees to the director's chairs this time around, and offer their demented visions to us with 5 new honchos (Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, Timo Tjahjanto, Eduardo Sánchez and Gregg Hale)) - each of these helmers performed to a standout level with their tales of resurrection, possession, and abduction. At 96 minutes of runtime you feel as of you've only been watching the videos for a short time, mainly because the stories immediately pull you in with little or no down time, and you are left with a yearning for more. It's been rumored that with the success of the first movie, this installment was rushed into production, but it doesn't appear to show any ill-effects of a quick assembly. I don't think that this surpasses the first V/H/S in any way, but the shocks and scares run quite the parallel line each of their renditions.
This will be released theatrically on July 12th in a limited-release aspect, so the best that we can hope for is a home theater launch soon thereafter - trust me, it will be worth the wait.