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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

V/H/S/2 (2013) - Horror Shorts

V/H/S/2 (2013) - The editor who chose the order of the pieces in this collection was sure to pull in the men in the audience with the chosen first story. A married man brings a young woman to a motel room for a night of cheating. Little does he know he is being followed and video taped. The man doing the video is a blackmailing douche who is looking to extort money from his victims? Okay his recording everything he does is no longer the most original thing to do. His female assistant is really not liking his next adventure as they break into a house looking for a missing teen.  
 What they find instead is VHS tapes, a bunch of lit up monitors and a bit of what looks like a spot of blood. While the guy takes one camera and explores the house the girl working with him reviews the computer in the room. There is video of the kid talking about a tape he got, talking to his webcam. Through following these two characters we learn the kid is researching these video tapes. She places one in the player and we are apparently transported into the next story. This is the basic principle of the VHS films, they are these fucked up and often supernatural events caught on tape.
  This particular wrap around story tries to explain that the missing teen is a collector of these kind of tapes. There may also be the implication that these tapes change the viewer. As we see in the wrap around they at least seem to have a physical effect on the viewer as Ayesha (Kelsy Abbott) learns. She is stressed watching the films and flashes of people behind her are scary, still isn't this the basic premise of the first VHS film? When the final part of this wrap around story takes a life of its own we are pretty sure there is not a clear explanation to why.  Larry finds Ayesha apparently dead and then watches the last tape 49. On it he sees as he and his friend show up. WTF so his dead girl friend awakes from the dead and attacks him I guess these tapes are powerful. He breaks her neck but she keeps coming. A dark ending  after the four separate stories are told.
The first story Ayesha watches features Director Adam Wingard acting as well as working behind the camera. We see a POV shot of the main character Herman (Wingard), a man with an electronic eye. He is happy to be able to have it but there is also a tension with the company who is doing this experimental work. They insist on recording through the eye leaving Herman a bit off put, but also giving the contrivance that created the tape being watched in the wrap around story. All is a bit mundane but then Herman thinks he sees something strange. Is someone fucking with the dude or are his strange visions real? The story asks questions about the line between this world and the world of ghosts. What if the reason we don't see ghosts is because our visual cortex is not equipped to see it?  What if mechanically this barrier was removed?
  In the story Clarissa (Hannah Hughes) comes to the rescue with the information we the audience needs. She has had a artificial earpiece implanted and hears what he sees. Then the message gets a bit muddled, she says the more you notice them the more they can interact with you. To avoid them you have to be distracted and if having sex with a young hottie is how you do it so be it. This expository dialog is quickly followed by Clarissa taking her shirt off and thus distracting us from asking Why? Why would ghost suddenly be able to physically interact with us if we see, hear or pay attention to them? Such things though are short lived at least for Clarissa because she is confronted with the physical part of the beings shortly after sex. Good thing Herman has a lockable bathroom well at least for a while. Still the idea is interesting if unexplained more than the simplest of ways.
   Story number two we have guy (Jay Saunders) filming his bike ride and talking to his girl Amy on the phone. He has two cameras one on his helmet and one on the handlebars looking back at the rider. Its just another "Go Pro" day for this mountain biker. Then a girl runs in front of him, "My boyfriend, you have to help my boyfriend, help Dan." The young man does his best brave face as he heads the way she points, but there are noises out there not natural noises, he gets scared and returns to the girl. She has been vomiting and now attacks him apparently turned into a zombie. He pounds her head in with a rock and looks up to see zombies shambling towards him. Bitten himself we see from his helmet cam him running away but slowing down weaker and weaker until he starts vomiting just like the girl. He struggles on to death and we get his awakening as a zombie with a helmet cam just as a couple of riders come across him. The couple call the police and report it,but this appears to be a first hand "Go Pro" video of a zombie outbreak.  Then he attacks the couple killing the man and wounding the women. We get to watch him eat the man ripping the stomach open and pulling out the intestines. When the woman of the couple comes back and joins the man wakes a zombie also and they all wander off together, until they hear a kids birthday party. Zombies attack the party awesome...The plague is spreading, trying to connect feelings to the zombies by having them pick up objects is stupid, having the idea to kill himself is worse. The main problem with this piece is after you get use to the neat idea for the filming the film is something we have seen way too much at this point in zombie movie history. So at the point where the zombies roll into a birthday party of little kids we are pretty sure how this one will end. Its really nothing exceptional by some of the gore is entertaining.
  Story three has a film crew doing some investigative journalism, they are filming a man, Father (Epy Kusnandar) talk about heaven or the spiritual world, how human kind is getting closer and closer to the gates of that other existence. They are trying to get him to agree to let them come and film at his commune. They are making a story of this commune leader a man who says he can bring a new world to everyone in his group. Next we see images on security cams of the commune and then the film crew arriving. The cutting between all kinds of camera sources, security cameras, hidden cameras on people, actual interview camera are all used to piece together the goings on in this commune. It is a fanatical group who will protect Father no matter what.  They are an outcast group who thinks the end of the world is near. There is some dynamics between the crew that are foils to separate them but when shit starts going down this short gets freaky wierd and may be the best segment in the film.
  The interview is a bit contentious with tough questions. and more contrivances to separate the players. When looking around the place one of the crew see the hanging plastic of a construction site.What is that on the plastic? Looks like blood...hmm.. maybe we should go look. Looks like a dead body of a woman who was in childbirth.  Uncover the face,  She is still alive and shit split wide open he runs away. Shit starts hitting the proverbial fan as it is time for the apocalypse.
 Cult leader attacks and kills the sound guy with a wonderful slicing of the throat on camera.
Now Lena (the director?) (Hannah Al Rashid) is in peril as four women grab her and drag her off. They all have these white cloudy eyes like they are as blind as Master Po in Kung Fu. All the cultist are killing themselves as the final hour is at hand. We see the crew fight for their lives as they are attacked. Adam witnesses lead guys execution and then hears Lena scream. Excited girls scream with joy as they carry her to their leader. Adam (Fachry Albar) seems a bit of a coward but with pipe in hand heads down the hall to help. Then weirdness as something blows the doors out and a person crawls across the ceiling past he over head. The cult leader comes out to tell him he does not need the weapon, covered in bloody runes he explodes before Adam's eyes.  He attacks the white eyed crazy cult woman holding Lena and lifting her shirt sees as the demon rises out of her belly. He runs as any smart person should do, but is attacked by apparent dead as he leaves white eyes and all he struggles to get out. This is really apocalyptic end times kind of stuff and it is all he can do to stay alive. He hears the roar of the devil as he races to the cars. Why he is still running the camera is a mystery. He drives out of there but does not make it as something crashes into the car. Waking a bloody mess in an overturned car something is still outside moving the vehicle. Silly goat headed devil above him as he crawls out of the car. Nice frantic pace to this one as the crew meet their demise one by one.
The final story beside the absolute silliness of the dog wearing the camera is good in using light and noise to create a chaotic atmosphere. The basic story is that of a slumber party where the parents are away and the kids are going to play. Since there are no adults around the  swearing by the kids is exaggerated and the antics, practical jokes, and fear is nicely portayed. The older sister, Jen (Samatha Gracie) is watching the younger siblings. Then there is doggie cam and I don't know what to think of this. Something big and noisy outside scares everyone, not as scary as when the aliens come in and try steal everyone. They all for some reason end up in the lake and the disorientation continues as more attempts are made to capture them. Chased by Aliens they run into the woods but still are worried about the dog, which makes noise but is the only way we see the story. Gary (Rylan Logan) the younger brother with his friends are tricksters but the real trick is on them. Periodically the aliens make another attempt at getting them. Since the doggie cam is the view we have to put up with this annoying setup in what is otherwise a fine job at creating a convincing atmosphere.
 Overall V/H/S/2 is a fairly satisfying horror collection. I know the implications of framing the stories as home made means that we have to watch the awkward pov and grainy security cameras. It really is the worst part of this film. Ideas are a mixed bag and I was clear in the paragraphs above which I liked. So with that said I have to say I would recommend this one. It is available on Netflix streaming. Check it out!

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