I know it was silly for me to expect more from VHS 2 than the original film, but the only relief in this sequel is the minimized sexual abuse against women in the storylines. The structure of the film is as weak as the original, with a premise that is creepy until the acting reminds us what we are watching isn’t real, but the actual shorts segments making up the film are even more disappointing. As with the original film, there are just enough moments that are praiseworthy to highlight how awful and unimaginative the remainder is.
Seven directors combine efforts for this anthology horror film, based on the premise of found footage VHS tapes which have deadly consequences when viewed in the correct sequence. In fact, many of these shorts are hugely unoriginal apart from the creativity of making the narrative work within the found footage format. With the frequent use of cameras in our every day existence, whether it is attached to our phone or sporting equipment, this premise makes sense if it weren’t for the fact that the films are all meant to be on the outdated VHS tapes. This conundrum aside, most of these short films are a bit too safe to even be memorable. There are some exceptions, which is what makes these films so painful. I can’t recommend a film which has about fifteen minutes I loved and over an hour of material which is duller than it is despicable, as was the tendency in the first film.
Here are the segments, for better or worse. In a segment directed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next) called “Phase I Clinical Trials,” a man gets an implant in his eye with the technology to also include a bonus camera for the scientists to watch and the audience to participate. Although Wingard seems to be making a gigantic stylistic wink at Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void, this is not a horrible choice to make in creating an unsettling atmosphere. “A Ride in the Park” is directed by Greg Hale and Eduardo Sánchez (The Blair Witch Project) and is easily the weakest in the bunch. It is a zombie short without much inspiration. “Safe Haven” is a film about a revealing expose into an infamous cult, directed by Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Evans (The Raid). “Slumber Party Alien Abduction,” directed by Simon Barrett (Hobo with a Shotgun), is the most fun and frightening in the bunch, despite merely being another alien abduction storyline. The visuals and the abruptness with which things occur made this the most effective in the group of shorts.
The DVD special features include a behind-the-scenes featurette for each of the segments, as well as a look at the entire film by AXS TV, a behind-the-scenes photo gallery and a commentary track with the filmmakers.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 6/10
Disc Features: 7/10