Directed by: Simon Barrett, Adam Winguard, Eduardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Gareth Huw Evans, Tim Tjahjanto, Jason Eisener UK Release Date: TBC Rating: 18 Running Time: 96 Minutes
As much as you may want them to, found footage and handheld camera based films appear to be here to stay. Judging by the surprising success of VHS last year (I was impressed enough to give it only a decidedly average rating in August 2012) it even found its way to Frighfest in the UK in January this year. With no firm date as yet slated for a release of the sequel in th UK, viewing it online is probably the closest you’re going to get to a sniff of what has turned out to be a much better effort this time around, with a bigger budget, part two retains the original theme of one overarching story based around a house full of VHS videos for some poor unsuspecting victims to rifle through. As opposed to a group of marauding men, we meet a man and a woman breaking and entering into a house on the assumption that they may find clues there to discovering a missing youth they are searching for. Inside the house is a familiar sight to those familiar with the first film, masses of television, showing only static, surrounded by mountains of VHS videos, each one seemingly containing some bizarre happening or event.
As with the previous movie and the Tape 56 segment, this opening film is the one we return to repeatedly throughout the running time and features the two people mentioned above. Although not their job this time around, curiosity takes over and the woman, Ayesha, begins to sift through the tapes, inserting them in the player and the following short films are what she (and we) see. At the end of each of these films, we return to Ayesha and her partner Larry, as their own bizarre tale unfolds. As a standalone short, this is probably the most lightweight of the collection in acting prowess, but contains the films’ biggest hook and twist.
A man is fitted with a digital eyeball that can never be switched off due to an accident and we are, in a novel twist on the handheld camera genre, afforded a view of his life immediately following his discharge from hospital (just waiting for the Google Glass short film in VHS3, you read it here first, horror fans). Not unlike (but on a massively reduced budget) The Eye starring Jessica Alba, this foreign body in the eye socket appears to start showing things to the new owner that they can’t decide are real or not. Decent enough acting makes this an average jump and scare, but this is more about the idea than the telling.
A Ride In The Park
It’s a lovely day, so you decide that instead of meeting your girlfriend for breakfast, you will nip into the park/forest/wooded area on your mountain bike, sticking a camera on top of your helmet, in order to catch all the two-wheel gownhill action. Well, this chap get way more than he bargained for and as with the orginality displayed in Clinical Trials, there is not only a new and inventive way of using a camera to film proceedings and becmoing part of the film itself, but the film also provides a new and unique way of seeing the action from an entirely new perspective that you could never have done before. As an idea, this is probably the highlight of the project, even if the plot and script left a little to be desired.
Off to the Philippines to record a cult in their natural habitat. A group of photo-journalists talk the leader of a commune into letting them film their lives in their very private community. At first the man is reluctant, but is cajoled into allowing them on the promise that their film will be unbiased and allow him to explain why the commune exists and the purpose of the people’s lives that choose to live there. They pick the wrong day to turn and start filming however. Most notable for Gareth Evans being partly responsible for the directing, Safe Haven is anything but. Gory, visceral and very violent, this is the most impressive example of film-making in the series.
Alien Abduction Slumber Party
Yes, as bizarre as it may sound, it’s not just a zippy title. There is a slumber party and there is an alien abduction taking place during it. A little like The McPherson Tape on speed, this frighteningly loud and often garish story revolves around the children of a family of what seems to be practical jokers. Much fun is to be had withwater pistols and filming the eldest daughter having sex with her boyfriend whilst another teenager masturbates to a porn movie in the living room. In a house where all hell threatens to break loose and nobody intially notices means that we can get a pretty good understanding of the mentality of the inhabitants. The effects are good and the long-limbed aliens are reliably creepy, even if the short itself is chaotic and messy in its revelatory telling.