Wednesday, November 27, 2013

'V/H/S 2' (Movie Review)

I was a fan of the original V/H/S. It was rough around the edges but that rawness gave it a lot of character. Anthology movies tend to be hit-or-miss but overall I liked what it had to offer, and came away satisfied.

Now here we are with the follow up V/H/S 2 and I can honestly say I loved it. I'm always pleasantly surprised when a sequel outdoes its predecessor and V/H/S 2 tops the original in almost every way. The sequel has a higher budget to work with, and it really shows. The writing is much tighter, without losing that gritty, raw feeling of the original. The overall formula remains the same, with the shorts being encapsulated inside an overarching story with VHS cassettes as a theme. Even though the peripheral story "Tape 49" is probably the weakest of the bunch, it still does a good job of driving the movie forward, featuring solid performances by Kelsy Abbott and Lawrence Michael Levine as two private investigators searching for a missing student.

The other segments are great, delivering a variety of scenarios that are smart, extremely gruesome, and even funny at points. Pulling in buzz-worthy directing talent from the likes of Eduardo Sanchez and Jason Eisener among others, each story is a surprisingly fresh take on the "found footage" sub-genre and makes clever use of the first person camera motif. Viewpoints from an unfortunate bicyclist with a helmet cam and a family dog are new perspectives I haven't seen yet and make for some cool moments.  At no point did I ask the question "Why would someone be lugging around a camera to film this?!"

Everything is briskly paced, and never wears out its welcome. The films feature insane amounts of gore, especially Timo Tjahjanto's "Safe Haven" which follows the doomed exploits of a group of journalists documenting a cult. Each story managed to keep me on the edge of my seat and even get a few "awwww, gross!" reactions. That's a mark of quality. Also, at a short running time of 96 minutes, the movie never loses momentum.

I would recommend V/H/S 2 to anyone interested in "found footage" horror. It's a great example of how to do things the right way and breathes life into a horse I thought was violently beaten to death a long time ago. If you're a fan of the original V/H/S and somehow haven't caught the sequel, stop reading this review and go watch it right now.

Grade: A

Reviewed on VOD via Netflix. Running time 96 MIN.

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