With one fewer segment than the original, this stack of mo' lo-fi tales of taped terror opens with no credits — just the wraparound story of two private investigators searching for a college student missing for a week. Their gig takes them to his house, where in front of a bank of TVs, littered VHS tapes await viewing, thereby leading to four freestanding bits.
In the first, “Phase I Clinical Trials,” a man (You're Next director Adam Wingard) is befitted surgically with an experimental eyeball that doubles as a camera. The orb is not without its side effects; the end result put a smile on my face, whereas it may put a scream on yours.
The Blair Witch Project co-director Eduardo Sánchez returns to the woods for “A Ride in the Park,” in which a young biker unwittingly pedals his way into a horde of zombies. Its 15 minutes, give or take, are better than any of the recent spate of independent features on the undead, because unlike those features, it knows not to wear out its welcome.
The longest story, “Safe Haven,” (from The Raid: Redemption's Gareth Evans) starts to grow tired, before redeeming itself in a balls-out finale that goes places you won't expect. Its filmmaker protagonists infiltrate a religious cult's compound to present an "unbiased view" of what goes on behind its doors — an awful lot of effed-up biz, as it turns out.
Finally, Jason Eisener (Hobo with a Shotgun) steals the show with the self-explanatory “Slumber Party Alien Abduction.” If you must only watch one piece of V/H/S/2 (although I advise against such pick-and-choose sampling), Eisener's is the one.
Both volumes of V/H/S and the recent The ABCs of Death quietly have revived and revolutionized not only the moribund horror anthology, but the horror genre in general, putting art above commerce, ideas above mass appeal. The movement isn't for everyone — which the unrated cut on Magnet's Blu-ray makes messily clear — but I love it. —Rod Lott
Hey! Read This: