Shocking Saturday: V/H/S 2

The thrilling V/H/S anthology franchise returns with a sequel that surpasses its predecessor in quality and original ideas.

VHS2-Poster

Once again someone has been hired to break into a house that is littered with snowy television sets and stacks of VHS tapes; this time a private investigator and his girlfriend have been hired to find a missing college kid by his worried mother. As one of the two searches the house for clues, the other begins to watch the various tapes in a bid to find out what has happened. Unfortunately the tapes do not give any ideas, they just show stories of disturbing and violent footage shot by unknown people; each tape more terrifying than the last. Including footage of a haunting, a suicidal cult, zombies and an alien abduction. As the pair view more and more of the tapes it appears as though watching these may be what has caused the kid to disappear.

What jumps out at me about V/H/S 2 – as it did with the first one – are the original ideas that are just so gripping to watch. Each story is directed by a different person, meaning that each story has a different and fresh take on it; this helps to keep the audience watching in wonder at will come next. What has really been improved on from the original is the length of the video segments; whereas in the first it was five rather short stories that failed to explain their plots well, in the sequel it has been changed to four slightly longer stories that urge you to understand the subject matter more.

Every video tape is incredibly imaginative, the various directors (Adam Wingward, Eduardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans, Jason Eisener) have not just used a typical horror film narrative, they have added a different aspect to them. For example with the first segment ‘Phase 1: Clinical Trials’, in which a man is fitted with a new eye – that is also a camera –which makes him see dead people, it is not just another ‘The Eye’ film. In the short viewing I assure you that you will be more creeped out and shaken than throughout that entire Jessica Alba flick. Not only that, what the segment offers that is great is an amazing contrast between incredible state-of-the-art technology and simple practical make-up. The variation of these two things showed both ends of the horror time-line put together – the practical effects of the Hammer Horror classics, and the gadgets which are used in a large portion of today’s horror films.

Straight after experiencing the first segment it was obvious that this film was miles ahead of the original; I just hoped that it wouldn’t go downhill from there. It definitely didn’t as the second ‘A Ride In The Park’ took one of my favourite horror monsters – zombies – and span the idea on its head; as we are watching through the Go Pro camera of a recently joined member of the undead. Although the shortest of the videos, its compact size stopped the story, that we have seen many times before, from getting too monotonous.

The third segment ‘Safe Haven’ definitely steals the show, as it just had everything you could have asked for; a creepy vibe throughout, unlimited amounts of gore, an interesting plot and characters that you could get in touch with. The Indonesian based story follows a documentary crew who are filming at the location of a cult who believe they are heading for the gates of paradise, unfortunately the crew are there when they begin their journey…lets just say a lot of blood is spilt. This segment put V/H/S 2 at a much higher standard of horror.

The final tape ‘Slumber Party Alien Abduction’ is pretty self-explanatory from its title, and while it did not leave the film on a bad note, it did have a disappointing low-level of creepiness; something which really is needed in alien themed films.

Although I did really enjoy the first V/H/S film, what really let it down were the video tape segments that never really seemed to go anywhere and were over too quickly; therefore character development was not seen often. Also the shakiness of the hand-held camera was too much at times, I understand that the film makers were trying to make it as realistic as possible but it gets to a point where realism goes out the window, and the audience just can’t make out a single thing on-screen. It is only after viewing V/H/S 2 and re-watching V/H/S that I realised how bad the quality of the first film was, thankfully this, and much more, has been improved upon in the second film.

vhs2 man

As I have said many times when reviewing found-footage, it has been done to death now and directors need something new to offer their viewers. V/H/S 2 definitely ticks that box by using new technology such as Go Pros and spy cams throughout the film, perhaps to relate more with a 21st century audience. Something else I look for is the effects that are used on camera, unlike where V/H/S seemed to use gore a lot just to fill spaces in where the plot was lacking – gore for the sake of gore – the sequel gets exactly the right amount. When the effects are used they are incredible and very believable, however they are not over used at any point where they’re not needed.

To sum up V/H/S 2 was a definite step above the first film, and for any fans of found-footage or anthology films I would recommend this. It is one of the most enjoyable horror films that I have seen in a while.

Tag Line: Who’s Tracking You?

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating: 

Shocking Saturday: Megan Is Missing

Let’s return to the found-footage genre with the 2011 film ‘Megan Is Missing’. A film that aims to shock and repulse, which, at times, it does; however it falls short due to a lack of acting from the majority of the cast and by turning into more of a documentary which is trying to promote a message.

megan

As you can most likely guess, the film is about a girl named Megan who goes missing. However before all that happens we are introduced to Megan and her best friend Amy, who have been friends for years. Although Megan is a very popular girl and Amy is right at the other end of the popularity spectrum, they still hang out all the time. That includes going to parties full of under-age drinking, drugs and sex – most of those by Megan not Amy. Despite loads of people telling Megan that she is too good to be friends with Amy, she takes no notice of them because they believe they’re going to be friends forever. Then the shit hits the fan after Megan begins to chat to a boy named Josh online whose web-cam has supposedly broken; and being a not-knowing-any-better 14-year-old she agrees to meet up with him. What follows afterwards shows a best friend’s determination to uncover what has happened to her friend. However when Amy goes looking for answers, the truth is much worse than she could have ever imagined…and her nightmare doesn’t stop there.

When I heard about Megan Is Missing I was rather excited to see it – and I’m glad that I did – however what I thought really let the film down in parts was the shoddy acting; mostly by Megan (Rachel Quinn). Don’t get me wrong the portrayal of the distraught Amy (Amber Perkins) was terrific, and anyone who has seen the film will know why. But it felt like that you didn’t really connect with the Megan character, she does attempt to tell stories of her troubled past, but the scenes are over so quickly that it hasn’t given time to set in. Don’t get me wrong, what happens to her in the film will definitely send a few shivers down your spine, but in a way it could have happened to anyone and the viewer would have felt the same. The fact that she was, in a way, the main character, didn’t make much of a difference.

What was great about the film was the way the found-footage technique was used. In the same way – but used so much better – that Paranormal Activity 4 tried to make it appeal to today’s audience, Megan Is Missing used cameras on things such as mobile phones and web-cams; in a way that made the story so much more believable, especially with the film being focused around youths. By using these types of video feed the audience is able to perceive a more realistic take on the hand-held camera genre.

What Megan Is Missing came across as more than anything was not a shocking film, but rather a wake up call to parents who allow their young children to live this lifestyle; and the behaviour of the kids just made it frustrating to watch. Now don’t get me wrong, nothing like this is deserved or anyone’s fault – apart from the antagonist – but it was hard to find sympathy for one half of the main cast because the film just shows how bad youth is today. Drinking, doing drugs, having sex and talking to strangers on the internet at 14…how can you not think that something will go wrong? Plus the fact that most of the characters are spoilt little high school brats who need a good kick up the arse in telling them that their lifestyle is terrible made it even harder to watch.

I would definitely recommend Megan Is Missing to any found-footage and horror fans, but be wary when watching…most of the cast are just unbearable. It can’t be a good thing when the best part of a film is what most people would call the worst.

Tag Line: Megan And Amy Are Best Friends. They Share Secrets. They Chat With Guys Online. And In A Few Days They Will Never Be Seen Again.

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating: ☆☆