Sunday, June 30, 2013

V/H/S 2 (2013)

Time's a little out of joint, since we're breaking up our 20s flow, but this is a very-hyped sequel to a very hyped first film that left many, me included, pretty disappointed.  "Sequel" is loosely-applied here—we get a similar house-full-of-tapes wraparound, but it's a different house with no sign of the first film's housebreakers.  Otherwise, the only carryover is the anthology format itself.  We get one fewer entry this go-round, which really works in 2's favor—there's a little more breathing room, a little more space for impact.  This will have spoilers!

There's almost a record for quickest tits debut, then a private investigator and his amour enter a house on the trail of a missing college student.  They find the room above, with a laptop and many a television and tape.  The PI searches the house while his girlfriend watches tapes, giving us the frame for our movie.  The first entry concerns a guy who has received an eye implant, courtesy of some ambiguous company.  The implant includes a camera which cannot be turned off and we get plenty of footage of the guy looking into mirrors.  Too bad he's not a coke addict or this would seem more natural.

This eye is like the eye from THE EYE and the guy quickly starts seeing sallow and raccoon-eyed dead people around his house.  A girl shows up and tells him that she had the same problem following a company-sponsored cochlear implant.  Then they make love, then die.  Adam Wingard directed this and it's perfectly fine, nothing spectacular, but nothing offensive either.  Just a good first foray.  Next...

Eduardo Sanchez of BLAIR WITCH, ALTERED, and LOVELY MOLLY turns in another fun short, this one a first-person bicycler-zombie romp, complete with an attack on a child's birthday party.  I liked the zombie's looks and especially their sounds, like spastic mumbles, the sounds old people make sometimes when you try to explain the Internet to them.  Again, good times, but no timeless classic and perhaps a bit below the usual Sanchez gold standard.  It's weird to think that, without him, this movie/genre would not even exist.  Things to remember: zombies prefer iPhones.

Third, THE RAID director Gareth Evans offers a pretty lengthy tour of an Asian apocalyptic cult.  Cults as a subject would seemingly be a good choice for horror, but the films mostly don't work.  Nothing has come close to toppling WICKER MAN as the cult cult film supreme and this short doesn't mount a serious challenge.  The initial stages are pretty lifeless, as we get the admittedly-hilar-looking leader ranting and raving while the film crew tours his bunker of folk songs and incest.

But then the film just decides to throw up its hands and go CRAZY.  Everything that could splatter does, flesh gets shredded like Christmas paper, and it all leads to an ending that some might say goes too far into ridiculous monstery outrageousness.  But I loved it, man, I think the best thing that you can do with this format is keep the tempo rapid and don't skimp on the red and cast puppets if you can.  Half moody waiting, half orgy of violence, very flawed and very good.

The movie took the song's advice and saved the best for last.  Jason Eisener, who directed this, also did HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, so you'd expect the prior entry's unreasonable sensibilities to continue.  They don't, though, as this entry pairs right up with V/H/S 1's curtain call in that it uses the same kind of haunted house/video game structure.  Except that, this time, a dog has the camera.

Kids run around and try and fail to escape monsters, really sinister grey aliens in this case, so I amazed that I actually slept last night.  This felt like a very fun ride, like something that you'd hit first at an amusement park.  No, it doesn't have much to say about art or human nature or the nature of the universe, but it has chafed aliens breaking open attic doors to get at you and sometimes that's all that you need.

The V/H/S movies, like a lot of modern horror, are driven by unrelenting hype from the Internet's horror establishment.  So I was wary about believing the raves regarding the improvement visible in the sequel.  Guess what, it really is better!  I wouldn't say it's a great or very good film, but its flaws are less naked than the first film's and it's a great deal faster and more fun.  Horror anthologies are generally pretty unmemorable, so saying that this ranks in the top half of the horror anthology scale probably isn't fulsome praise.  But it's worth a watch if this kind of thing is your kind of thing.

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