V/H/S 2 (2013)

Like the first “V/H/S,” the sequel to the acclaimed anthology surely won’t re-invent the wheel, but it still manages to be a very good horror film with a killer series of stories. Meshing the found footage sub-genre with the anthology film. “V/H/S 2” learns from the mistakes of the first film by reducing the number of stories and lengthening them for more exposition. There are still inherent flaws and plot holes injected in to this sequel, but for this outing there’s a better sense of coherency, and a lot less filler. Rather than the more confusing premises from the first film, this time around the four stories are much easier to follow. To wit, they’re much more entertaining.

Even when they’re not always as superb as they have the potential to be, “V/H/S 2″ is still a stellar shocker, with some creativity behind it. Set to a premise of two private investigators who get their jollies off of filming adulterers and bribing them for the tapes, they’re sent to a house to investigate the disappearance of a young man. When they enter to look for evidence, they discover the series of monitors, and the dreaded tapes. If the sequel has one flaw, it’s the story ” Clinical Trials Phase 1″ from director Adam Wingard. A man is given an eye implant from a special clinic that allows him restored vision after a fatal car accident took his eye sight. Warning of some “glitches,” the young man gets more than he bargained for when he begins to see ghostly apparitions through his eye. Not only that, but the ghosts are aggressive and violent. With the help of a young woman who can hear the ghosts thanks to an ear implant, the two try to cope with the abilities.

This segment is confusing and filled with unanswered questions that try to double as ambiguity. Are the doctors aware this technology can tap in to the supernatural? Why don’t they simply have these implants taken out? In either case, “A Ride in the Park” by Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale is a fantastic follow-up set on a bicyclist who stumbles upon a young woman being chased by a zombie. When he’s bitten, he dies and is re-animated, and we’re able to see how he responds as the walking dead through his helmet camera. Filled with disturbing gore, and wonderful scenes of zombie carnage, the second segment is a great look at the start of a zombie apocalypse, and never shies away from some truly sickening, and darkly comedic moments of zombie chaos.

“Safe Haven” from Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Huw Evans is easily the best story of the film. Terrifying, disturbing, and absolutely incredible, this is the longest segment. Set on a news crew looking to compose a documentary on the local community “Paradise Gates,” they seek to uncover the secrets of the seemingly serene civilization that many in the media have dismissed as a dangerous cult. But when the head of the community begins setting in motion his great descent in to the gates of paradise, things go from unsettling to utterly horrifying in mere minutes. The direction in this segment is fantastic, as is the wonderful special effects that rely on subtle imagery to convey the horror.

There’s also an immense amount of gore and painful imagery to endure, but it’s worth it. The final segment “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” from director Jason Eisener is a short but sweet final segment revolving around a group of kids alone for the day at their cabin by the lake. They decide to spend the day playing pranks and fooling around with one another, but things spiral out of control when they’re attacked by a merciless group of aliens that want the kids and will stop at nothing to bring them to their ship. Filled with excellent photography, an unsettling quick pace, and horrifying villains, director Eisener really helps the film go out on a punch with a frantic final story that will leave many grinding their teeth in tension. Despite the somewhat unusual and inexplicable final scene, the segments really tie the film together for a fantastic sequel that will satisfy the appetites of horror fans who enjoyed the first outing.

Now Available for Rental on VOD, and in theaters July 12th.