There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
While searching for a missing person, two private investigators discover what looks like an abandoned house. They break inside only to find a collection of televisions and a collection of suspiciously marked VHS tapes. Not finding any other clues in the house, one of the private investigators decides to play one of the tapes. The private investigators soon realize that, when played one after the other, the tapes affect their viewers in mysterious ways.
One tape tells the story of a man who gets a cybernetic optical implant that begins picking up supernatural frequencies. The next tape tells the story of a cyclist with a go-pro in the midst of a zombie outbreak. Another tape tells the story of a sadistic cult. Each tape has a different supernatural story to tell, but with each tape, things get progressively stranger for the private investigators.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
The Tapes (+5pts)
The Connecting Plot (-5pts)
The Characters (-4pts)
The Horror (+8pts)
Pro: The Tapes (+5pts)
The filmmakers had the opportunity to give audiences a variety of unique stories. With this format, the movie never felt old. We got a collection of short stories that were as sweet as they were short. There was enough time to quickly setup the premise, pull the trigger on the premise, and ramp up the intensity. Then, before the audience had time to get bored from any one story, the movie moved right along to the next one.
The tapes themselves were also pretty interesting. Each tape had a very unique premise that hooked me in for different reasons. As a result of having so many short, unique stories, V/H/S/2 always felt fresh. With each new tape, the audience will be intrigued, and sitting on the edge of their seat, wondering what they are about to witness next. This type of storytelling has some flaws, which I will get into later, but the benefit was that the filmmakers were able to switch things up by introducing a variety of creative stories, rather than letting any one story get old.
Con: The Connecting Plot (-5pts)
Much like V/H/S, this movie failed to deliver a connective plot that was even remotely interesting. This movie was comprised of a number of short stories. Between these stories, there was another story that connected them all, which was the story of the two private investigators exploring the abandoned house and watching the tapes. After having seen this story through, I cannot help but wonder what the filmmakers saw in it that made them think this connective plot was worth telling.
I doubt very many people will watch this movie knowing it is a collection of short stories, but wanting an additional story to connect them all. People are going to watch this movie for a collection of scary short stories. With that in mind, if you are going to add a connective plot, it had better be a good one. Unfortunately, the filmmakers failed to add an interesting connective plot in the first movie and they failed to do it with this one. It was as if the filmmakers had a preconceived notion that they had to have a connective plot, so they just whipped one up, and did not care if it was interesting or made any sense. They just made a connective plot to say that they had one, and it resulted in a bunch of scenes in which I was tempted to fast forward through, in order to get to the next short story. I did not end up doing that, I powered through, but I doubt many viewers will care about the private investigators or what they are doing.
Pro: Technology (+3pts)
I was surprised by how well the filmmakers used technology in these stories. There were a couple of tapes that were simple, found footage stories, but a couple others used technology in creative ways that made me feel like I was watching an episode of Black Mirror. One unique story was the zombie apocalypse tape. In this tape, a cyclist was wearing a go-pro when he was bitten. We then saw a zombie outbreak story from the point of view of the zombie. I have never seen that before, because let us be honest, zero dialogue or development from the main character can be boring for a feature length story. However, it was an interesting idea that I thought worked well in the short story format.
In my opinion, the most creative story was that of the optical implant. We have seen stories with cybernetic optical implants many times before, but this story took it a big step further. The patient quickly discovered that his device was malfunctioning, as his implant began picking up paranormal frequencies. He could see ghosts, but could not here them. Then the ghosts learned that he could see them and he became a focal point of their attention. I liked this story a lot. It was creative, unique, captivating, and a great example of how the creative ways the filmmakers incorporated technology into their stories.
Con: The Characters (-4pts)
While the stories themselves were interesting and continuously made the movie feel fresh, there was a downside to having so many short stories thrown in here. Due to the limited time that each story had, the filmmakers had barely enough time to setup the premise and deliver exciting horror. As a result, they did not have enough time to create and develop characters that the viewers would care about. As compelling as these short stories could have been, they felt a bit hollow, because I did not care whether or not any of the characters lived or died. Each tape was entertaining enough, but the characters simply did not have receive the development necessary to get me truly engaged in any of the stories.
Pro: The Horror (+8pts)
I had a few issues with the short story format, but one thing that they were all effective at was delivering intense horror. Each story had a premise that kept me on the edge of my seat in anticipation of the next scare. Some of these stories had the typical jump scares that you have come to expect from horror movies today, but there were also unique and memorable horror moments. Some moments were more effective than others, but these stories kept me on the edge of my seat with their creative stories and exciting horror. These short stories had some issues, but one thing they all got right was delivering effective horror.
Con: Impact (-4pts)
This issue is kind of tied into the poor character development. Each story had effective horror, but the stories were difficult to get invested in. This was largely due to the poor character development, but additionally, none of the stories had much of a plot. Instead of having sub-plots for each story, it was like they just had situations in place of plots.
The stories did not have well written characters, or any real plot within these situations. Instead, they just sort of delivered a bunch of random characters in a handful of random horror scenarios, and then they just let those horror scenarios play out. By not developing any of the characters, the filmmakers made it hard to get invested in them. By not developing any real plot for each short story, the filmmakers made these scenarios feel somewhat inconsequential. By not developing either of these things, I was unable to feel like I was in the story. Instead, I just sort of felt like a fly on the wall, watching a bunch of random, horror stuff happen to a bunch of people I did not know. The horror scenarios were pretty effective at overcoming this a bit, but these stories would have been far more impactful if the filmmakers took out a couple of these short stories in order to free up the screen time to properly develop the rest.
Grade: C+ (78pts)
Much like its predecessor, V/H/S/2 was a moderately entertaining horror movie. The horror was effective and the stories were unique, but the short story format was responsible for all of my issues with the movie. The connective story was boring, uninteresting, and it will leave viewers begging for the next tape to start. Each tape had a unique premise, but due to the limited time the filmmakers had to tell each story, the characters were poorly developed and the individual stories did not get the proper setup to get me truly engaged in them.
The horror was definitely exciting and suspenseful, and the premises in each story were unique and interesting. There was a lot of intense horror, but you simply will not care about the characters in these situations. If you are looking for an at least average horror movie, then this movie would not be a bad choice. However, if you are looking for a hidden gem that will knock your socks off, then this movie will not be it. The horror was decent while it was happening, but the movie definitely had room for improvement.