Last year, the first V/H/S was met with much anticipation in the horror community. The anthology film brought together some of the genre’s biggest names and promised to also be a nostalgic homage to a beloved home media format. For the sequel, the producers amassed an almost entirely different group of filmmakers. The only returning directors were Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard. The rest were faces that we’d recognize: Eduardo Sanchez (Blair Witch, Lovely Molly), Gareth Huw Evans (The Raid), Jason Eisner, Gregg Hale, and Timo Tjahjanto. This time around, the end result was far more successful.
Where the first film had some segments that were great and others that were not so great, the sequel is solid throughout. The centerpiece and the one garnering the most buzz is “Safe Haven,” from Evans and Tjahjanto. It’s cool for many reasons, not the least of which is that it displays just how much can be fit into a short amount of time if the writers are competent enough. The characters are fleshed out and the most believable of any of the segments, the concept is original, and the story is multilayered, giving us more and more for the duration of the short. It’s a really cool film filled with a great energy.
The other segments are great, too. Playing like a collision of Close Encounters and Paranormal Activity, “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” is loads of fun and makes great use of the format to create sometimes unbearable tension. “Phase I Clinical Trials” is strange and filled with genuinely scary moments while “A Ride in the Park” is the best way I’ve seen zombies combined with found footage.
Not all the dialogue is great and there is some gratuity, but most of it is forgivable, and while the wraparound story isn’t anything particularly special, it serves its purpose. All in all, V/H/S 2 is a fun ride, feeling less like an experiment than the first one and more like a cohesive film. Recommended.
The Philadelphia premiere of V/H/S/ 2 is midnight tonight at the Ritz at the Bourse.