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John’s Horror Corner: V/H/S 2 (2013), another mixed bag horror anthology that’s worth a look for the adventurous

July 5, 2013

FYI: This should be treated as NOT SAFE FOR WORK.
So don’t come complaining to us when your boss peaks over your shoulder to your monitor and sees a dude in his underwear covered in blood (see image below).  That’s on you!  This is a horror post.  I can’t make everything PG.  LOL

MY CALL:  Looking for a film that features mass suicide, demons, evil omen fetuses, zombies, cults, poltergeists, possession, aliens and disfigured murderers?  Well, depending my interpretation of what I saw in the melee of clips from this film you may be in for all that and more…all be it in small doses.  We get to taste a lot of stories and ideas and, if we don’t like one of the shorts after ten minutes, just wait ten more minutes for the next one to start.  If you like anthologies then don’t miss this.  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH:  Some other fun, decent and/or clever anthologies include (in order of release date):  Black Sabbath (1963), Tales from the Crypt (1972), The Vault of Horror (1973), Creepshow (1982), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Stephen King’s Cat’s Eye (1985), Creepshow 2 (1987), Tales from the Dark Side: The Movie (1990), Necronomicon: Book of the Dead (1993), Campfire Tales (1997), 3 Extremes (2004), Trick ‘r Treat (2007), Chillerama (2011), Little Deaths (2011), V/H/S (2012), The Theater Bizarre (2012), The ABCs of Death (2013) and The Profane Exhibit (2013).

Episodic horror anthology meets found footage as the movie opens with a private investigator’s footage (taken by his assistant).  They make their way into a home loaded with VHS tapes.  What’s weirder than the lack of DVD upgrades are the other things they find in the house and its general semi-abandoned state.

Anyway, clearly the assistant never saw The Ring because she happily starts watching the tapes one after the other, alone!  As she watches the videos, we watch the short films that comprise this episodic anthology.  Like many such episodic horror films, the introductory story (called Tape 49) additionally moves on briefly in between the shorts with interesting developments.

These short films vary substantially in filming style, acting, gore, direction and writing quality.  The second and third films were much better than the other two “tape” films, both of which were so mundane I’d be happier if they were altogether omitted at the expense of the film’s running time.  Below is a summary of each short film and, sometimes, a cheeky quote…

Phase I Clinical Trials.  After an accident a man (Adam Wingard; not the best actor) receives a prototype prosthetic eye. A part of the compromise of this “free” clinical trial is that it has a built-in recording device that remains on at all times.  After getting home it appears that his recorder his short-circuiting on him because he starts to see blips of static, ghostly figures of dead people and general hallucinations.  It serves semi-moderately well as a jump-scare flick which is brief tactlessly smutty. Overall I was unimpressed with this play on The Eye (2002 Asia, 2008 USA remake) which failed more often than it succeeded in shocking viewers despite serial attempts.  Entertaining, I guess–but nothing special.  Filmmakers:  Directed by Adam Wingard (The ABCs of Death – Q is for Quack; V/H/S – Tape 56) and written by Simon Barrett (The ABCs of Death; V/H/S – The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger).

A Ride in the Park.  A cyclist wearing a head-cam goes for a jaunt in the park, during which he encounters an injured woman in the process of succumbing to zombiism.  This is a straight-forward, blatantly predictable zombie short from the start, but it does a nice job illustrating the simplest domino-like cascading beginnings of a z-pocalypse with a pretty good sense of humor.  The special effects are generally weak but I appreciate a good gross-out attempt when I see one–and a few playful attempts are made complete with visceral sound editing.  Clever camerawork and good storytelling make this short film a strong success.  Filmmakers:  Directed by Gregg Hale (producer: Lovely Molly; Seventh Moon) and Eduardo Sánchez (director: Lovely Molly; Seventh Moon).  Seventh Moon was quite lame, but this short film has earned Hale and Sánchez another shot in my eyes.  Give’em a zombie script.

Safe Haven.  This foreign horror short follows a film crew making a documentary of an Indonesian cult, led by “Father” who will lead them to immortality.  The crew gets Father’s permission to film on his compound where we learn of some strange sexual conduct involving children. But our attention is quickly derailed as worst-case cultish scenarios play out before our eyes very quickly.  The gore is VERY, VERY, VERY abundant, VERY well-executed and VERY in our face!  This short becomes totally bonkers for all the right reasons and includes evil omen birth, animated evil corpses, demons, possessed behavior, mass suicide and exploding bodies.  Did I mention the fantabulous gore?  This is one of the best effects-driven shorts I’ve seen!  Although the effects of the major demon were admittedly pretty weak, all else was nothing short of stellar given their humble budget.  Filmmakers:  Directed by Timo Tjahjanto (The ABCs of Death – L is for Libido) and Gareth Evans (Merantau, The Raid: Redemption) did a pretty rockin’ job with this.  I’d like to see a feature length version of this with more amped up creature effects/design and, obviously, more story development.

“Wait.  On 3?  Or, like, 1-2-3…theeeeeen shoot?”

http://eddieraysmoviereviews.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/vhs2-or-these-tapes-are-not-that-fun-my-fuckin-review/
“Fear not, Father will save you.”

“Just breathe.”

Slumber Party Alien Abduction.   Shot in part via “doggy-cam,” this short film is about three siblings, their friends and their dog, and a sleepover.  After meeting the foul-mouthed, fun-loving kids their sleepover is invaded by annoyingly classic-looking aliens.  The creature concepts, invasion, chase scenes and scares were of the lowest level of cinema and offered us NOTHING.  I’m sure the filmmakers were trying to show us some clever style, but I found nothing of the sort; it just looks like a couple of simpletons made a dumb film that serves no other purpose than to warn would-be financiers away from supporting the director’s future endeavors.  EXTREMELY BAD!  And I’m normally good at finding the kinder angles for recommending most any horror film.  Filmmakers:  Directed by Jason Eisener (The ABCs of Death – Y is for Youngbuck, Hobo with a Shotgun).

Ahhhhhh!  Not-scary aliens!

Ahhhhh!  There they are again not being scary!

Tape 49.  This is the story of the investigator and his assistant, who is watching the tapes as we, the audience, watch.  This was done well and closes with an amazing,  gory, intense, creeptastic finish.  I was happy with this anthology canvas.  Filmmakers: Simon Barrett (The ABCs of Death; V/H/S – The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger).

Just because I disliked a couple of these shorts in no way means this wasn’t a fun experience.  We get to taste a lot of stories and ideas and, if we don’t like one of the shorts after ten minutes, we just wait ten more minutes for the next one to start.  If you like anthologies then don’t miss this.

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. July 5, 2013 10:19 am

    I want to watch the Gareth Evans clip. The Raid was perfect so I bet he can make me feel uncomfortable for ten minutes.

    • johnleavengood permalink
      July 5, 2013 10:34 am

      Evans does the most solid job on his short! Of course, he’s also the most accomplished filmmaker of the bunch.

Trackbacks

  1. John’s Horror Corner [INDEX] | Movies, Films & Flix
  2. More of the Same: VHS 2 Review | Pixcelation Entertainment
  3. John’s Horror Corner: You’re Next (2013), featuring one of the best credibly tough horror heroines I’ve seen in a decade! | Movies, Films & Flix
  4. The Raid 2: Gareth Evans and His Action Opus | Movies, Films & Flix
  5. John’s Horror Corner: ABCs of Death 2 (2014), and a guide to its short films and directors. | Movies, Films & Flix
  6. Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990), a great horror anthology featuring mummies, killer black cats and amorous gargoyles. | Movies, Films & Flix
  7. John’s Horror Corner: Tales from the Crypt (1972), a truly classic horror anthology. | Movies, Films & Flix
  8. John’s Horror Corner: The Vault of Horrors (1973), not quite living up to its Tales from the Crypt prequel, but fun nonetheless. | Movies, Films & Flix
  9. V/H/S Viral (2014), another found footage horror anthology with a couple of cool short stories | Movies, Films & Flix
  10. John’s Horror Corner: Creepshow (1982), a classic, campy, nostalgic horror anthology from Stephen King and George Romero! | Movies, Films & Flix
  11. 3 Days until Halloween! October Pick #5: Trick ‘r Treat (2007) | Movies, Films & Flix
  12. John’s Horror Corner: A Christmas Horror Story (2015), a holiday anthology complete with zombie elves, evil spirits and Santa fighting Krampus! | Movies, Films & Flix
  13. John’s Horror Corner: Deadtime Stories (1986), a wonderfully campy horror anthology with diverse effects and dark fairy tales. | Movies, Films & Flix
  14. John’s Horror Corner: Southbound (2015), five linked tales form this decent horror anthology with angels of death and the worst broken leg ever. | Movies, Films & Flix
  15. John’s Horror Corner: Holidays (2016), an excellent horror anthology with some shockingly good horror shorts. | Movies, Films & Flix
  16. John’s Horror Corner: Blair Witch (2016), discussing a divisive franchise whose third installment offered nothing new except LOUD NOISES and a videogame monster. | Movies, Films & Flix
  17. John’s Horror Corner: The ABCs of Death 2.5 (2016), really not the best horror anthology, with a variety of perverted themes. | Movies, Films & Flix

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