Monday, January 21, 2013

V/H/S/2 (2013)

No official poster is yet available.
Director(s): Simon Barrett, Jason Eisner, Gregg Hale, Eduardo Sanchez, Adam Wingard, Gareth Evans, Timo Tjahjanto

*Note: At the time that I saw this film, it was under the title "S-VHS." Since that time it will be released under the title "V/H/S/2." My review still uses the original title from the Sundance showing. Just to clear up confusion I changed the film title in the main title.

"V/H/S" certainly took me by surprise with how it impressively navigated the halls and boundaries of 'found footage' horror and anthology films. Although the film wasn't great (mostly due to inconsistency between the segments), it certainly impressed above my expectations. That's why when they announced that "S-VHS", the very quickly put together sequel, would be at Sundance Film Festival this year. I had to go. Could the style actually be improved upon? What stories could they come up with to make it bigger? Was "V/H/S" a one trick pony?

 Two investigators are hired to find some lost college student. A mother hasn't heard from her son in a couple of days and she's worried. When the two investigators break into his house to look for clues to his whereabouts, they are met with an odd scene. A scantily clad place with piles of static televisions and stacks of VHS tapes scattered about. When they begin to watch the tapes to see if any of those hold clues they find a series of unexplained events on each one and with each one, they seem to be caught in one of those events themselves.

Ghostly little girls? A now favorite in the genre.
To answer those questions above in the shortest manner possible, yes, "S-VHS" does actually improve on the concept that the original film laid out. Instead of trying to create a logic to bend around the found footage style to give us new takes on some of the classic horror genres, "S-VHS" decides to say 'fuck it' and throw the attempts at logical writing out the window. To its benefit, this allows "S-VHS" to take each story to extreme new levels with more entertaining (and often surprisingly fun) results. While "V/H/S" opted for lots of 'in the moment' horror, the almost gimmicky styles of each short in this sequel allot the directors and writers for each segment to do more creative things. Camera wise, we get electronic recording eye ball implants, bicycle cameras, and even a small recoding device attached to a dog that makes each portion of the overall film a bit more unique and definitely a riot.

The tape says 'watch'...too bad I haven't owned a VCR in like five years.
To add to this, the overall feeling of the film tends to be a bit more care free. Gone is most of the darker and serious tones and in their place, "S-VHS" injects dark humor and over the top terror. Just when you don't think the film will go someplace it does. If you have an implant eye that allows you to see ghosts...wouldn't you want to get it out? How about with a straight razor. If you were investigating a cult in the rural regions of Southeast you think they would be suicidal? Or would you think them to be demonically possessed? These are the areas that "S-VHS" treads and it makes for a film that consistently knocks up the level that it is moving towards and ultimately makes for a horrifying (and gratifying) experience.

The real question? Have bad things already happened or are they going to happen at this point...
The film is not perfect. Some of the crunchy camera edits get a bit annoying as they cover up changes of time and there are some oddities in the writing including an odd ending to the zombie POV segment that had me scratching my head, but overall I had a blast watching "S-VHS." It's another impressive addition to a franchise that is looking to be a fantastic way to cultivate mainstream attention to some of horror's great underground directors and crews. "S-VHS" might not be for everyone with its cult like tendencies, but for those looking for a fun and over the top viewing time - it comes highly suggested.

Written By Matt Reifschneider


  1. The key for the success of this film is the question: what will happen? I think horror don't have to be logic or reasonable, horror comes in forms that brain can't deal with. Thanks to this directors that decided to do WHAT THEY WANT and don't worry to be pleasant with people or "horror fans". Congratulations to S-VHS. P.S. When I saw V/H/S my heart was beating crazy... I don't want to imagine what will happen to me with this one. :D

    1. I agree Luis! There is a "freedom" to these films that really resonates with fans. The choices of story and execution keep pushing further and further as the film makers involved are allowed to go places where they creativity takes them. I know it sounds silly, but half the time one can tell if the cast and crew behind a film are having "fun" doing something...and the "VHS" franchise definitely has that going for it.