Anthology horror movies can be a mixed bag, definitely not for everyone. Anthology found footage movies, I’d imagine, sound like an absolute fucking nightmare for some people.
For me, this movie lands right in the sweet spot. Uncompromisingly violent, boundary pushing and definitely very scary. I love found footage horror and I love anthologies.
Following on from 2012’s VHS, this sequel is a big step up. I really enjoyed that first one, but VHS 2 raises the bar. Four horror shorts linked by a connecting segment in between each film, directed by some of the most exciting directors in genre filmmaking. Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett return from the first film where they made the linking segments joined by Jason Eisner (Hobo With a Shotgun) , Gareth Evans (The Raid) Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale (The Blair Witch Project).
Each segment would easily stand alone as a full movie, its crazy that none of them have been adapted to features so far.
The movie’s first short is Adam Wingard’s first person horror “Phase 1 Clinical Trials” about a man who, after an eye injury has a bionic eye with a camera implanted, unfortunately this starts him seeing “glitches”. Ghosts start appearing and things spiral. It’s well paced, builds tension and is genuinely terrifying. The first person perspective is particularly horrifying.
A Ride in the Park is a go-pro zombie movie. A cyclist is bitten in the woods and goes on a zombie rampage, filming as he goes. It’s a cool idea, but maybe the only one not worth fleshing into a full movie I guess.
Gareth Evans’ segment, Safe Haven is for me the highlight of the whole film and blows the fucking doors off, so to speak. Journalists infiltrate an Indonesian apocalypse cult, infidelities and betrayals are revealed and the situation gets increasingly worse. My jaw was hanging open by the end of this one and I really think they should have ended the movie with it. There’s no way to follow it. Truly has to be experienced. Evans is such a vital talent these days, his work is so exciting, his abandoned Deathstroke movie for DC would have been incredible.
The final segment is Slumber Party Alien Abduction by Jason Eisener, a sort of early 90’s feeling sci-fi horror, reminiscent of the whole X Files era, but obviously a lot scarier, particularly reminding me of Fire In the Sky. It’s a really good short, full of scares, but is definitely overshadowed by Safe Haven. The concept is great though and well executed by Eisener.
VHS 2 is a much bigger feeling movie than the first one, straying away from the lo-fi mumblecore aesthetic and adding a bigger sci-fi feel. The John Carpenter influence is heavy over the whole thing, but in a good way. A must see for fans of found footage and definitely worth a look if you enjoy horror at all.
For Fans Of:
Blair Witch (2016)