How do you make a successful sequel? Easy – you give audiences the same, only different. It’s a lot easier said than done, but the brains trust behind ”V/H/S 2” have understood it and done it perfectly. How much you liked the original will inform almost completely on how much you like this one.
There’s a smattering of sex, a lot of tension, some very inventive takes on storylines and some decent jump scares. Even the structure’s the same. A pair of investigators break into an abandoned house in search of the guy they’re looking for and find the dingy house mostly deserted except for a pile of TV monitors and video equipment on the floor of the main room.
It’s all done found footage style as the male investigator goes off to search the house, leaving his female colleague with the videotapes and screens to go through each story. It gives the film the perfect opportunity to show eerie shadows moving in the frame in the darkness behind her when we know her partner is off somewhere else in the house, setting up a creepy payoff down the line before the short film segments start.
Once again they’re a varied as they are good fun. The first is about a guy who gets an experimental eye implant to restore his sight after an accident. Of course, when he comes back home to his cool house in the Hollywood Hills, he sees more than he bargained for.
The second segment is the most comic, as a guy wearing a Gopro camera while bike riding in the forest witnesses – and becomes a victim of – the zombie apocalypse. The third is the creepiest and best, as a film crew visits the headquarters of an Asian religious cult. At first it all seems harmless, just a slightly nutty and enigmatic leader who runs a compound complete with a school full of cute kids.
But during a break in the interview and with the crew separated and spread throughout the compound for various reasons, the cult leader viciously attacks the cameraman and all hell breaks loose in a bloodbath or murder, suicide, grisly mass rising from the dead and demon birth.
The last movie is about an alien abduction threat during a teenage slumber party, and it’s when it’s over you realise how clever ”V/H/S 2” has been about taking very established tropes from aliens to zombies and doing very new things with them.
Once again the technical artefacts of VHS video add to the mood on screen – compared to the digital video of today VHS always looks like it’s about to turn into the most disturbing snuff film you’ve ever seen, and the film uses it to augment some very cool little horror stories.
DVD : Commentary, featurettes, promo material and stills.