Day 15: V/H/S/2

This one is going to be relatively short… I’m sure this doesn’t surprise anyone considering that I pretty much gave away my feelings about V/H/S/2 during yesterday’s post. You may recall that I ended that one by stating that while these two movies may be fairly equal in terms of structuring and quality but that the major difference between the two is in the framing segments. I’m actually, going to take that back (a bit) at the end of this write-up… but more on that later. Let’s spend a bit of time on the framing structure. While I found the framing of the first movie problematic, it actually had more going for it than this one. In this movie, we watch a pair of private detectives break into a house while looking for a missing person. One of the private eyes gets sucked into watching VHS tapes (similar to the first one). There are two weaknesses to this set up. First, it seems less believable and more stilted than the first. Second, since these are not inherently bad people it lacks the feeling of schadenfreude that accompanied watching the inevitably bad outcome of the group in the first installment. So, in the end, while the first movie had its issues, this movie had its own unique issues with framing structure. Specifically, it felt labored and actually ruined the flow of the movie… it felt more like a chore to get through than a nice intermission between segments.

Now, let’s get on to the individual segments themselves. The film is comprised of four major segments… one less than the last installment. This is actually a strength of the film. It provides an opportunity for the clips to breath a bit more and it moves along at a nice clip, while the first movie felt somewhat over-long… especially by the time the last installments rolled along. Similar, to yesterday, when I tried to recall what I had watched nearly a month ago, I could only come up with two of the segments. However, these segments remained with me in a much more salient way than the two I recalled from the first movie. This probably has less to do with the overall quality of the clips and more to do with the themes they explored; they just happened to deal with my two favorite subgenres: zombie movies and alien abduction stories (and by favorite, I mean the two subgenres that can still elicit a scare from me). The first of the two, A Ride in the Park, shows us a zombie break-out from the perspective of a zombie (thanks to a go-pro). There’s not much here in terms of suspense or scares, but oh boy is it fun. I’m always impressed when a filmmaker can do something original when it comes to zombies. The second segment that reached me was Slumber Party Alien Invasion. The title pretty much sums it up. All I’ll say is that by using a dog and kids of various ages, the filmmakers are able to ratchet up the tension. The two segments I couldn’t remember until I looked at my notes are Phase I Clinical Trials (a technological ghost story that deals with a newly installed cybernetic eye) and Safe Haven (where a film crew visits a death-cult) are fine. In fact, I think they are slightly better than the three forgettable segments from the first installment. They are well made and have a couple of good scares (though, many of them are of the jump-scare variety and thus feel a bit cheap). In the end though the first feels a bit silly and the second one is repetitive and overlong (which, is saying something since it only has a 29-minute run-time).

Looking back over my viewing experience of all three installments of the trilogy, I think it’s important to acknowledge that it all comes down to personal preference. I’m sure if we had ten people put the twelve segments in order (not including the framing mechanisms) we’d come up with some surprisingly different lists. What I can say (and this is usually true of most anthology films) is that there are an equal number of hits as there are misses… which, is not too shabby. I’m also glad that I watched these films in the order that I did. There were clear improvements between the third and first installments and the second included my two overall favorite segments. In fact, I wish someone would make a V/H/S mixtape that includes the five best segments. Well… there’s an idea. If you’re at all interested in these movies, my suggestion would be to watch these segments (and in this order):

  • Second Honeymoon (the second segment of V/H/S)
  • Parallel Monsters (the second segment of V/H/S Viral)
  • The Sick Thing that Happened to Emily When She Was Younger (the fourth segment of V/H/S)
  • Slumber Party Alien Invasion (the fourth segment of V/H/S/2)
  • A Ride in the Park (the second segment of V/H/S/2)

Hey… remember when I said this was going to be a short one?

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