MRR Review: "V/H/S/2"

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Searching for a missing student, two private investigators break into his house and find collection of VHS tapes. Viewing the horrific contents of each cassette, they realize there may be dark motives behind the student's disappearance.
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Movie Review: "V/H/S/2"

Rating: Not Rated
Length: 96 minutes
Release Date: June 6, 2013
Directed by: Simon Barrett and Jason Eisener
Genre: Horror/Thriller

Private investigators Larry (Lawrence Michael Levine) and Ayesha (Kelsey Abbot) are out on a case, trying to find a college student who's gone missing. In their search, they come across the house that was the setting for the 2010 film "V/H/S." They enter the house and find a stack of tapes similar to the haunted tapes in the first film. They decide to sit and watch them to see if the contents would be any help in their investigation. The choice to watch the tapes turns out to be a very fateful one in "V/H/S/2," an anthology of short films framed by the investigators watching the tapes.

The first tape has a short film called "Clinical Trials," which features Herman (Adam Wingard), a man who's had a terrible accident and needs an eye transplant. He gets the transplant, but the doctor has inserted eyes that allow the corporation who paid for the transplant to see everything Herman is doing. It's a secret experiment that poor Herman wasn't privy to, so imagine his surprise when he starts seeing ghosts and other paranormal entities in his apartment as a result of his new experimental eyes. The next segment is called "A Ride in the Park," where a biker (Jay Saunders) comes across a small horde of zombies. Since this outbreak happens suddenly, nobody is prepared, which leads to chaos. Somewhere in the chaos, the biker, whose name is never revealed, must find a way to escape becoming one of the undead.

The third story is called "Safe Haven" and features a group of journalists in Indonesia who are unfamiliar with local customs. They hear about a cult in a remote part of the country that's trying to conjure up sprits that would haunt the world and bring about death and suffering. In the final segment, called "Slumber Party Alien Abduction," a group of young kids armed with a video camera begin investigating what they think is a prank, but it turns out to be something much more sinister and extraterrestrial, as the name implies. Between each segment, Larry and Ayesha's reactions are shown along with the possible possession of Ayesha, who can't seem to stop watching, even though doing so is slowly killing her because the tapes truly are haunted.

Horror movie aficionados have probably seen the original "V/H/S" and loved its new take on the genre. The great thing about "V/H/S/2" is those who haven't seen the first film can still jump in without any confusion about what's going on. Sure, the film is set in the same house as the original movie, but the story on each of the tapes is fresh. The seven writers with credits on the film have wisely chosen to make the movie a stand-alone film, potentially allowing a new set of moviegoers to become fans. There are seven screenwriters because each of the four segments has one or more different writers. Each one draws up a new story that could almost stand alone as a horror movie short, yet is still very much at home as part of the anthology that's "V/H/S/2." There are likewise seven different directors spread out across the four stories, with each one putting little memorable touches on the screen.

The story that wraps around all of the various segments might be the most compelling of all because it allows the audience to see some reactions to the crazy reality of a group of video tapes being haunted. Though this is a horror movie through and through that includes a healthy dose of blood and gore, some psychology is at work here as well. After watching each of the short segments, viewers will wonder exactly how the straight-and-narrow private investigative team will handle such a revelation. The reaction from Ayesha is terrifying, with Abbott doing a fine job portraying a woman who seems to be under some sort of demonic possession. Ayesha is shown after each segment obsessively and compulsively continuing to watch each of the tapes, unable to stop herself from doing so. It's eerie and chilling in all the right ways, ensuring these little between-segment glimpses of the investigators aren't just throwaway parts of the film.

A big amount of the credit for a film usually goes to the director, but in the case of "V/H/S/2," there's more than one director at the helm. This is actually good news because it means a group of horror directors is looking to inject new life, or perhaps blood, into the genre. Horror films have become almost formulaic in recent years, but this film proves there's more than one way to frame a story while still managing to scare a crowd of new and veteran horror fans. 

Rating: 3 out of 5