Sunday, January 5, 2014

V/H/S 2 (2013) (Minor Spoilers Review)

**This review contains MINOR spoilers. No major twists, reveals, or character deaths**

This is a horror anthology film, so I’ll do another separate synopses and my thoughts after each storyline breakdown review. Tape 49 is the main story arc and intro for V/H/S 2.

Tape 49

Larry (Lawrence Michael Levine) works as a private investigator with his girlfriend, Ayesha (Kelsy Abbott). Together, the duo accepts the case of a concerned mother, who’s looking for her missing son. The son is a college student, and his mother hasn’t seen or heard anything from him in one week.

Larry and Ayesha break into a seemingly abandoned house to search for more clues. In the living room, the duo stumble across an elaborate set up with television sets, VCRs, and scattered VHS tapes. While Larry searches the house for more clues pointing to the missing college student’s whereabouts, Ayesha agrees to stay in the living room to watch the tapes. Unbeknownst to Larry and Ayesha, a stranger is inside the house, waiting for the right moment to attack……

My Thoughts: Tape 49 is a basic and effective intro. This intro establishes Larry, as the bolder one in the duo, because he’s willing to take risks. On the flip side, Ayesha is more level-headed and quiet. Plus, there’s a funny moment, when Larry is trying to catch a cheating husband in the act. A maid blows Larry’s cover during the recording, and the cheating husband chases Larry to his car.

Phase I Clinical Trials

After a brutal car accident, Herman (Adam Wingard) needs an eye transplant, so he agrees to a clinical trial for a mechanical eye. The catch? The mechanical eyes is equipped with a recording chip to monitor Herman’s progress, and removing the chip isn’t an option.

On his first night with the new eye, Herman experiences a series of bizarre malfunctions. With some help from his glitchy eye, various otherworldly figures, including a dead man covered in blood, and a dead girl, invade Herman’s home. A woman named Clarissa (Hannah Hughes), who experienced similar problems after a clinical trial from the same company, offers a helping hand. Who are the otherworldly figures, and why are they stalking Herman?

My Thoughts: Phase I Clinical trials is a solid opener. Herman’s eye camera provides a unique and refreshing POV for found-footage films, and the nail-biting finale ends with a nice cliffhanger. Although, I’ll admit, the sequence of Herman hiding in his bathroom, checking the bed, and locking the bathroom door feels repetitive, because they repeat the same process over and over again.

A Ride In The Park

Mike Sullivan (Jay Saunders) is an enthusiastic cyclist. He’s preparing for his daily bike ride in the park, and Mike uses a camera attached to his helmet to record everything. Mike is feeling the heat from his neglected girlfriend, but Mike is forced to deal with a bigger problem during his bike ride. A freighted woman covered in blood pleads for help, and to make matters worse, Mike spots a horde of approaching zombies.

Mike tries to help the woman, but she’s too sick to move. Mike doesn’t have a chance to defend himself, so the zombified woman attacks. Eventually, Mike succumbs to the woman’s bites to complete his zombie transformation. Two unsuspecting bikers approach an unconscious Mike, but a simple 911 call takes a backseat to a life-or-death fight, when Mike attacks the bikers.

My Thoughts: Kudos to Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale (the directors) for providing another refreshing found-footage POV. The rough cut style from Mike’s helmet camera adds a strong sense of realism, and you see every stage in Mike’s transformation into a zombie (i.e. Mike vomiting a black liquid).

Seeing everything through the eyes of a zombie is a GREAT idea for a short. A zombie POV found-footage film has a legit wow factor to it, because it’s a rare occurrence. And a short time frame is the best option for a found-footage short with a zombie POV, because the constant groaning and shuffling would reach a too tedious or boring point after thirty minutes.

Safe Haven

In Indonesia, an investigative news team plans to expose a satanic cult with a documentary and hidden cameras. Malik (Oka Antara) is the lead reporter, Malik’s best friend, Adam (Fachry Albar) is a cameraman, and Malik’s fiancée, Lena (Hannah Al Rashid) provides a helping hand as an interviewer.

Father (Epy Kusnandar) is the sadistic leader, and he’s under fire for horrible and unspeakable crimes against the children of Safe Haven. Eventually, the team unravels the dark and evil mystery behind Safe Haven, and Father’s master plan comes full circle during his final announcement……

My thoughts: Incredible. Safe Haven is loaded with so many shocking twists and turns, and the diabolical cliffhanger provides a great jaw-dropping moment. This is the minor spoilers version, so I won’t go any further with details. Just watch Safe Haven first, because you need to experience the shocking mayhem without any restraints.

Slumber Party Alien Abduction

Randy (Cohen King) and Gary (Rylan Logan) are determined to ruin their big sister’s date night with some help from their friends Shawn (Zack Ford), Danny (Josh Ingraham), and the family dog, Tank.

When mom and dad leave the house for a vacation break, Jen’s (Samantha Gracie) date with her boyfriend, Zack (Jeremie Saunders) is disrupted by a barrage of pranks, but Jen gains the upper hand with some help from Zack during a sneak attack. But the feuding siblings are forced into a truce, when a group of Grey aliens show up…………

My thoughts: Stupid. It’s one word you can use to describe this short. Why should I care about characters, who are too dumb to react to OBVIOUS warning signs? The most obvious warnings signs? Blaring horn noises in the background, flashing lights from a flying saucer, and during an underwater scene, you can see the hazy image of a Grey alien reaching towards the camera. Of course, Jen decides to call the police AFTER the aliens attack. Ugh.

Summary: When it’s all said and done, V/H/S 2 isn’t terrible, but I had bigger expectations for this. Without Safe Haven, V/H/S 2 is mediocre film at best, because Slumber Party Alien Abduction almost drags this one into the dumpster. Yeah, it’s that bad.

Still, V/H/S 2 deserves credit for using refreshing and inventive methods to justify a found-footage POV (Phase I Clinical Trials, A Ride In The Park, etc.), and V/H/S 2 should satisfy the more extreme and bloodthirsty horror fans. Nudity, an overflow of blood, and disgusting gore. You name it, and you’ll see it in V/H/S 2. V/H/S 2 is more darker and sinister than its predecessor, and Safe Haven is a must-see. If Phase I Clinical Trials and A Ride In The Park bore you, just fast forward to Safe Haven for an unforgettable experience.

Also, I hope we’ll learn more about the people collecting and making the tapes in V/H/S 3. Why are they doing this? Who are they working for? It’s time we take a trip into the rabbit hole to learn more about the tapes. As a fan of V/H/S, I’m keeping my fingers crossed, because I’m hoping V/H/S won’t fall into the Paranormal Activity trap: a runaround storyline (storylines for V/H/S) with no real pay offs in the end.

Rating: 5/10

If you're interested, you can follow this link to read the spoiler review for V/H/S (2012)-

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