Before lending his voice as the future Ted Mosby in How I Met Your Mother, Bob Saget starred in Full House on ABC. ABC scheduled a special “clip” show in 1989 called America’s Funniest Home Videos. AFV (which it was later known as/is) was supposed to be a one time event, but due to its unexpected success, it was picked up as a regular show. It has aired ever since (except for a small hiatus in 1999). AFV‘s bread and butter has always been people getting people getting hit in the crotch, falling down, or crashing into things. Today, viral videos (what they are known as now) on the internet pretty much drive YouTube, and shows (such as AFV and the more mean spirited Tosh.0) still air to huge ratings.
V/H/S 2 is a point of view anthology film depicting the most insane videos you’ve ever seen. It’s quite the rush, and only slows down long enough to transition to the next story. It definitely is a step in the right direction as the first movie had a great concept but lacked the follow through. It is quite intense, and is a call back to “old school” filmmaking at its best. It does utilize some CGI, but a majority of its special effects are old school filmmaking at its best.
When V/H/S 2 opens, we are introduced to private investigators (a man and a woman) detailing a husband’s infidelity at a seedy motel. After being discovered by a passing maid, our investigators have to make a run for it. Their next assignment is to find a missing college student. They break into his house, and find it abandoned and nearly empty. In one room, there are multiple televisions set up (and tuned to snow) and a laptop. A lamp flickers on the floor. While one of the PI’s searches the house, the woman investigator sits down to review the VHS tapes at this setup.
She finds some very disturbing films.
Our first film is entitled Phase 1 Clinical Trials. A young man has been in an accident and lost an eye. A corporation donates a bionic eye to him with the understanding that everything he sees will be broadcast back to it. When he goes home that night, he finds that he is suddenly haunted by multiple ghosts. Phase 1 was actually the slowest of the stories as it takes the longest to develop. I was a little confused as to the man’s decision making as his refuge of safety was always his bathroom. I would have been back at the hospital immediately! Outside of the questions, it really was a great little short. It left many questions unresolved, and had a great vibe to it once it got going.
A Ride in the Park is a very good short about a zombie outbreak from the zombie’s perspective. A man runs across an injured woman while riding his bike on a wooded park trail. He sees some people wandering towards him, and he turns to the woman. She has been zombified, and she attacks him. He is bitten, wanders off, and dies. He’s reanimated as a zombie, and we are treated to a zombie’s POV angle for the rest of this short. This one was a total gorefest, and I loved it. The ending left a lot to be desired, but overall, this was my favorite. It’s so simple, and we aren’t annotated with the usual “What the F_ was that?” that plagues found footage films. The gore was closeup, and a little much for my wife (who is a huge fan of the Walking Dead) so beware.
A documentary called Safe Haven is our next installment. A film crew is researching an Indonesian cult at their compound call Safe Haven. The leader has been accused of various crimes (especially with children) and is very wary of the outside world. Despite this, he allows the crew on the premises. The crew captures the events as the leader decries this the “time of reckoning”. This was the best piece of filmmaking in the movie. It’s story was the strongest of the set, and it had the craziest series of events in V/H/S 2. It did fall into some CGI moments, but for the most part, most special effects were old school. It was intense and scary.
Our final piece is Slumber Party Alien Abduction. A group of boys is having a sleepover and making alien movies. They go swimming, and they torture one of the boy’s older sister and her boyfriend that are watching the group. That night, after the sister decides to get her revenge by catching one of the boys watching something he shouldn’t be, grey aliens (large and violent) show up in an invasion. The camera is attached to the dog’s collar so the entire section is from it’s perspective. This was by far the most intense and scary of the set. The aliens were CGI generated, but the camera tries its best not to focus on them. This worked because we are treated to very few good looks at the aliens. Instead, we are focused on the escape. Where this falls short in many movies, it works here wonderfully.
Throughout all of the shorts, we keep getting more and more information about the private investigators’ progress. The wraparound is a fun watch, but it was nothing exciting.
V/H/S 2 was just added to the Netflix Instant queue. It’s definitely worth a look, but don’t be looking for this as a party movie. This is just an intense scary movie that will scare the pants off of you late at night.