Now, just nine months after the release of the first film, the producers have issued a follow up, V/H/S/2. (Actually, V/H/S/2 premiered at Sundance in January, which is just three months after mainstream audiences got to see the first flick). I was impressed with the ingenuity in getting the sequel made, hoping it would live up to the original.
I enjoyed V/H/S for a few reasons: Parts were genuinely scary, and the overall movie felt fun. The filmmakers have attested to the fact that they meant for V/H/S to be a throwback – a fun, kitschy ride into horror hell. Agreed. I’m not sure if the team behind V/H/S/2 is going for the same vibe, but no matter the intentions, something is seriously lost in translation here.
First off, V/H/S/2 is not at all scary. The movie involves many a shocking turn-around-there’s-something-right-behind-you cheap thrill, but that’s fair enough. Most modern horror films have those. In the first segment, a young rich kid has surgery in which a fake eye (equipped with the capability to record) is inserted into his head. He soon learns that the eye allows him to see ghosts in his house. He sees them, they chase, he gets away, sees them, chase, gets away, repeat, repeat. This segment also contains the film’s most (unintentionally…?) hilarious moment, in which a self-assured young woman tells the guy the best way to get rid of the ghosts is to fuck each other’s brains out… in front of the ghosts. He doesn’t object.
The remaining three segments are more of the same: people spotting bad things and running away from them. Sure, one could argue that is the premise of most all horror movies, but to be more specific, segments two and three show people being killed, then turning into zombie-like creatures, then going after people. Segment four is about aliens going after people. So, yeah, not a lot of variety.
Beyond the film’s lack of frights, much of V/H/S/2 is just flat out dumb. Eduardo Sánchez (the co-director of the very effective Blair Witch Project) directs a segment in which people walk around like zombies from bad horror B movies of the ‘70s. Hands out, slow walk, loud groan, guts hanging – you get it.
While watching this segment, I couldn’t help but laugh. And I imagined myself watching V/H/S/2 in a packed midnight screening with hundreds of enthusiastic strangers. Maybe those strangers would’ve laughed with me. Maybe Sánchez wants us to laugh. Maybe he wants us to be in on his own joke. But what joke is that exactly? That modern horror is a joke of itself? That there are no remaining original ideas, so filmmakers are left to not only give us more of the same, but to mock their own material?
(In an effort of maintain fairness, the third segment, co-directed by Gareth Evans, who made the stunning film The Raid, is by far the highlight of V/H/S/2. It was the only one I enjoyed.)
I’ll end this by breaking V/H/S/2 down into the simplest terms I can. If you did not enjoy V/H/S, you will not enjoy its sequel. If you did enjoy V/H/S, maybe there is hope for you. But I doubt it. Period. D