Combustible Celluloid
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With: Lawrence Michael Levine, Kelsy Abbott, Adam Wingard, Hannah Hughes, Jay Saunders, Hannah Al Rashid, Fachry Albar, Oka Antara, Epy Kusnandar, Samantha Gracie, Jeremie Saunders, Rylan Logan, L.C. Holt, Mindy Robinson
Written by: Timo Tjahjanto, Brad Miska, Simon Barrett, John Davies, Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, Jamie Nash, Eduardo Sanchez
Directed by: Simon Barrett, Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, Gregg Hale, Eduardo Sánchez, Timo Tjahjanto, Adam Wingard
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 96
Date: 07/12/2013

V/H/S/2 (2013)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Playback Attack

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The trick with the anthology horror film V/H/S/2, as well as with its predecessor V/H/S, is coming up with excuses for characters to film themselves just before bad things happen. Aside from the somewhat lazy wraparound sequence, the ideas here are fairly inspired.

A detective and his partner are searching for one of the missing teens from the first movie, and they find the creepy house with the buzzing TV sets and the stacks of VHS videocassettes. Of course, they start watching a few. The first one is about a man who gets an eye transplant and begins seeing ghosts. Secondly, a biker films himself riding along a trail when zombies attack (his helmet camera becomes a zombie-cam). Thirdly, a film crew tries to get the inside scoop on an Indonesian religious cult, but their own dirty secrets betray them. And finally, attacking aliens disrupt a teen slumber party. Meanwhile, strange things are happening in the house.

As with the first movie, low quality is the goal, but only in the fourth segment is the hand-held camerawork nausea-inducing. However, even then, as the barely-visible aliens advance toward the camera, the technique induces queasy panic.

Mostly though, it's a surprisingly professional, and surprisingly effective movie. There are no real characters to speak of, and it's all about the sensation. The movie's approach simulates a viewer's point of view -- the viewer is the major character -- but it adds an extra layer of terror by removing the option to look away or blink. It can be genuinely scary. Only the extreme gore, which has a tendency to slowly and sickeningly increase over time, could be a drawback for some.

Directors on this entry include Adam Wingard (You're Next), Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project), Gareth Evans (The Raid: Redemption), and Jason Eisener (Hobo with a Shotgun).

I received a DVD review copy from Magnet, which appears to contain the same extras as the Blu-ray, and maybe on a movie like this the visual quality doesn't matter so much. The disc comes with a theatrical cut Each filmmaker recorded a commentary track for his own segment, and there are short behind-the-scenes featurettes for each. There are also photo galleries and trailers. Viewers can choose between the rated and unrated versions, which run about the same length, but apparently certain changes were made to the "Safe Haven" segment.

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