Fantasia 2013: “V/H/S/2” (2013) – Anthology Done Right

I never saw the first V/H/S film. So when I read the Fantasia 2013 material about V/H/S/2, I was skeptical. It was stated that the success of the first film “clearly called for a quick follow-up. But V/H/S/2 was different — and mark our words when we say that never before has an immediate sequel gone so far beyond its predecessor in every single way.” My interest was piqued. After all the good things I’d heard about the first film, there was no way this film could live up to a statement like that.

After watching V/H/S/2, I’m now obligating myself to watch the first one. Currently, I can’t say whether or not what I saw last night surpasses the first film, but it was definitely mind-blowing.

Each of the four films in this anthology horror are excellent, and each of them brings something different to the table from the horror genre. They’re all bound together by the very compelling “Tape 49” segment, directed by Simon Barrett. Actually, I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the ideas presented in “Tape 49” opened up like a cadaver on an autopsy table and explored more deeply.

VHS2 clinical trialsExcuse me? You wanna put that finger where?

The first segment, “Clinical Trials Phase I,” sees the return of Adam Wingard (V/H/S, The ABCs of Death, You’re Next). Directed by and starring Wingard, this short brings sci-fi and horror together with some cybernetic optics that allow Wingard’s character to see the dead. Madness ensues in this not-wholly-original short by Simon Barrett, but it is entirely entertaining with its jump scares, concept, and humor; the frustration that Wingard shows at one point is priceless.

VHS2 ride in the parkIs that Ryan Stiles?

The following segment, “A Ride in the Park,” brings yet another piece of originality to the ever-growing zombie genre. Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project, Altered, Lovely Molly) mounts a helmet cam on a mountainbiker who encounters and gets bit by a zombie. Thereafter, there’s tons of hilarity as he turns and learns what it means to be undead.

Safe Haven,” from Gareth Evans (The Raid, Footsteps) and Timo Tjahjanto (Macabre, The ABCs of Death), is probably the most disturbing and definitely the least humorous segment in V/H/S/2. Seemingly partially inspired by the Jonestown Massacre of 1978, “Safe Haven” takes a turn toward the supernatural through sacrifice. The special effects team (David Nicolosi, Andi Novianto) deserves recognition for the work done with the emergence of the Devil in “Safe Haven” — you’re gonna love the visual reveal!

vhs2 alien abduction

The final segment, “Slumber Party Alien Abduction,” is brought to us by one of our favorite up-and-coming directors, Hobo with a Shotgun’s Jason Eisener. Unfortunately, this was the weakest segment of V/H/S/2 for me, as it suffers from the same criticism that Michael Bay took for Transformers (2007) — too much movement in too many close-up shots. It’s sad, really, because “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” starts off strong with a very Speilberg-esque feeling and the aliens look great.

The Verdict:[rating:4.5]

As an anthology horror, V/H/S/2 has a little something for everybody. It will have you in stitches, jumping, screaming, and terrified. It’s a near perfect anthology and should make a welcome treat this Halloween season.

Rock Hard \m/

vhs2 box cover
Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
Year Released:
12 July 2013 (limited)
Simon Barrett, Jason Eisener, Gareth Evan, Gregg Hale, Eduardo Sánchez, Timo Tjahjanto, Adam Wingard
Lawrence Michael Levine, Kelsy Abbott, Adam Wingard, Hannah Hughes
Anthology Horror
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