V/H/S 2 [Blu-Ray]

V/H/S 2 [Blu-Ray]
4
Vastly improving upon the occasionally inventive, but mostly juvenile and misogynistic offerings of horror anthology V/H/S, the sequel encompasses a greater breadth of thematic and stylistic experiments in found-footage filmmaking. According to the commentary track, starting the brittle and convoluted wraparound segment with a scene of Simon Barrett groping fake boobs and waving his floppy wang is a way of acknowledging, "but not apologizing" for some of the first edition's widely perceived shortcomings. That snippet of cheap titillation leads to a boring setup for someone to watch a series of deadly VHS tapes. It's no surprise that the short Barrett wrote for director Adam Wingard is the only one in this batch that contains pointless nudity. "Phase 1 Clinical Trails" finds the director of You're Next playing a man with an experimental bionic eye that begins picking up otherworldly frequencies. The futuristic slant is a great excuse to use HD video, but it renders the whole analog tape conceit nonsensical. Ultimately, the connecting story mythology of "Tape 49" feels pretty perfunctory and inessential, so enjoyment of the individual shorts isn't contingent upon the whole. After that attractively shot, but meandering cyber ghost story, "A Ride in the Park" uses the simple idea of strapping a camera to a guy during a zombie outbreak to great effect. Eduardo Sanchez and Gregg Hale hit upon the bright idea of making the protagonist a casualty instead of a survivor. Depicting the birth and death of a zombie with a patient eye and as much sensitivity as gallows humour, this gory little story is one of the best in the series. The most direct competition for that title is Gareth Huw Evans and Tim Tjahjanto's bat-shit-crazy mock dock, Safe Haven. With a wild sense of vicious absurdity, the duo constructs a bizarre tale of a film crew absorbed into a gruesome satanic ritual while interviewing a charismatic cult leader; it's a rare beast that can be both hilarious and terrifying. Shocking for not being horrible, especially after his contribution to The ABCs of Death, Canadian director Jason Eisener is responsible for "Slumber Party Alien Abduction." That title pretty much says it all, except that the entire short unfolds from the perspective of a camera strapped to the family dog. The Hobo With a Shotgun director is better equipped to tap into empathy via animals than humans and manages to tell a coherent story without the aid of verbal exchanges. Each segment receives some form of special feature to complement it. Most ("Tape 49 Rewind," "Dissecting Phase 1 Clinical Trails" and "Inside Safe Haven") follow a standard behind-the-scenes format, but "Behind the Lights" is just an assemblage of candid footage from Alien Abduction offered without commentary and "I Dare You" is phone footage of crew members engaged in an ill-advised bet to push over a tree. Thought provoking stuff, that. "AXS TV: A Look at V/H/S 2" is a self-explanatory promo puff emphasising how superior this film is to the first — it is — and for some reason, a "Behind the Scenes Photo Gallery" is featured on the disc as well. To wrap things up, a commentary track includes contributions from each creative team, recorded separately for their respective projects. Aside from the knowingly annoying Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard apologizing for their personalities and talking about sneaking Barrett's penis into as many montage shots as possible during the end credits, most of the directors have something at least semi-interesting to say. If there were one additional quality short instead of that listless, nonsensical wraparound segment, this would be a horror anthology worth recommending. (Magnolia)