First things first. I watched the first movie at some point last year and reviewed it. You can read it here, or I can just sum it up for you: I didn’t like it very much. I gave it 2/5, and I probably could’ve gone a little lower. I don’t really have a desire to ever watch it again, if that tells you anything.
Needless to say, I wasn’t overly excited about watching this one. But I’m a professional (like, an unpaid professional. So I guess not really much of a professional at all), so I decided to put my head down and power through.
Let’s get right to it.
“Tape 49” [Directed by Simon Barrett]
We follow Larry (a private investigator) and Ayesha (his wife/girlfriend/P.I.C./whatever) as they investigate a missing college student. They break into his house and find a very familiar sight (to us, at least): a bank of TVs and a stack of VHS tapes. As the characters in this series are wont to do, Ayesha decided to start watching the tapes.
Like the first one, we catch glimpses of the house between the tapes. The normal things happen. We see a strange figure (presumably the missing student) moving in the doorways. We see Ayesha being affected a little more by each tape.
As far as a wraparound story goes, it was pretty good. There were even some genuinely creepy moments, which surprised me a little bit. At the very least, it was a good set-up for the rest of the movies.
“Phase 1 Clinical Trials” [Directed by Adam Wingard (A Horrible Way to Die, V/H/S “Tape 56”)]
A man who lost his eye in an accident receives a robotic eye. The person who installs it tells him that it’s new technology, and there are bound to be glitches. He may see strange things.
Nope. Everything seems fine so far.
Of course, he immediately begins seeing strange things, in the form of an undead man and little girl in his house. Naturally, these are not glitches, and he soon finds himself hiding in his bathroom while they try to break the door down.
He ends up running across a woman who had a similar experience when they fixed her hearing. She began hearing sounds of dead people. She tells him “the more you interact with them, the more they can hurt you.” When the dead show back up, they attempt to ignore them by focusing on each other.
With sexy results
Of course, the dead will not be ignored so easily.
Especially the fat dead
The verdict: I really liked this story. There were quite a few jump scares, and most of them worked really well. I was on edge for the majority of this story.
I really liked how they worked the camera into this. We see what he sees. It was a creative way to work the camera into the story, and it was very effective for scares.
“A Ride in the Park” [Directed by Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project, Lovely Molly) & Gregg Hale]
A man goes on a bike ride with a camera on his helmet. Before long, he comes across a bloodied woman. The biker finds figures slowly shambling in his direction. He turns back to the woman only to find that she has been turned into a zombie. She bites him. He falls. He dies. He reanimates. He attacks a pair of bikers. He munches on them. They die. They reanimate. The big happy group of them attack a children’s birthday party in the park.
Just what I wanted, Mommy. Corpses!
The verdict: Needless to say, once I saw this was going to turn into a POV zombie movie, I was thrilled. And it delivered. This was my favorite story of the bunch. It didn’t really have the scares/tension of the other movies in this collection (it was the funniest one in the bunch), but it was really well done. I absolutely loved this one.
“Safe Haven” [Directed by Gareth Huw Evans (The Raid: Redemption) & Timo Tjahjanto (ABCs of Death “L isfor Libido”)]
A documentary crew is granted permission to go inside the compound of an Indonesian cult, headed up by a strange man who refers to himself as “The Father”. Once inside, the crew realizes that there might be more going on than mind control and the possible rape of underage girls (not that those things aren’t horrible. Because they are. I cannot stress this enough). “Father” becomes crazed, violent, and borderline incoherent. And then it all goes to hell.
The verdict: Even though I really liked this one, I had a few problems with it. Nothing that stopped me from loving it in the end, but they were big enough problems that I feel the need to talk about them.
1. It started out really slow. I could tell pretty quickly where the set-up was leading, but it still took a long time to get there.
2. There was some drama between members of the documentary crew, but it felt pretty tacked on. It didn’t add anything to the story. In fact, it seemed to drag it down a bit. This could’ve easily been cut.
3. There were some really terrible effects at the end of this one. Laughably bad.
“Chip, I’m gonna come at you like a spider monkey. With a box cutter.”
Again, I really liked it, but these were issues that I had a hard time overlooking. Still, once everything starting going bonkers towards the end, I thought it was a lot of fun. Insane and fun.
“Slumber Party Alien Abduction” [Directed by Jason Eisener (Hobo With a Shotgun, ABCs of Death “Y is for Youngbuck”)]
The title does a pretty good job of telling you exactly what this story is. A group of elementary school/middle school boys are having a slumber party at the house of one of the boys. His older sister is having a slumber party of her own, mainly involving lake partying and sexytime. The brother torments his sister. The sister torments her brother. Then the aliens show up.
We want to party with youuuuuuuu…
[Slight SPOILER ALERT]
The dog dies. You’ve been warned.
The verdict: I liked this one a lot. The only problem I had with this (besides the spoiler listed above) was the noise that hit when the aliens showed up. It was a loud, long horn, and it was a bit much after the second time.
Still, that’s a minor issue. Once the aliens show up, this story is relentless.
Here’s how I have ranked all the stories in this collection:
1. “A Ride in the Park”
2. “Safe Haven”
3. “Slumber Party Alien Abduction”
4. “Phase 1 Clinical Trials”
5. “Tape 49”
Overall, I loved this movie. At first I thought I only liked it because I had lowered my expectations after the V/H/S, but that wasn’t the case at all. This is a great collection of films. Not a dud in the bunch. And, thankfully, the only sharking we see is a short clip from the first movie.
For the most part, this was a collection that was pretty scary and tense throughout, with more than a little humor sprinkled in for good measure. This was a tremendous anthology film. Highly recommended.