FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

Oct 18, 2015

Day 18: V/H/S 2 (2013)

I fully admit that I didn't want to watch V/H/S 2. I whined and hemmed and hawed like a four-year-old who doesn't want to pick up her toys and go to bed. I went through all seven stages of grief. I decided that I hate myself, I hate horror movies, I hate this blog, I hate SHOCKtober, I hate you. Finally I couldn't put it off any longer, and I started it, reminding myself that I only had myself to blame for this predicament; there are plenty of movies on Netflix that are not V/H/S 2, after all. I think I added it to the SHOCKtober lineup as some kind of exposure therapy; like if I were to just confront the movie head on by sitting through it, perhaps I could overcome my loathing of "bro horror." Maybe I'd even like it!

SPOILER ALERT: I did not like it.

In the first story, a young slob gets an experimental camera eye implant and soon discovers that it allows him to see ghosts–or at least, they are people who are sort of grey and they have dark circles under their eyes and they look glum. A fellow patient named Clarissa shows up at the slob's house and (ahem) explains it all: she got a hearing implant that allows her to hear the ghosts. The only way to get them to go away is for Clarissa to get her tits out and have sex with the slob. I was reluctant to watch the movie, sure, but it wasn't until this point in the proceedings that I was questioning every life choice I've ever made, and how I had come to this moment.

The second story features a mountain biker with a GoPro camera strapped to his helmet; he runs afoul of some zombies and soon becomes a zombie himself, the camera running the whole time.

The third story follows an inept news crew (I guess? who fucking knows who these people are) as they investigate a cult and then there are demons.

The last story has awful children playing pranks on an older sister and her friends, and then there are aliens.

The framing narrative is so pointless that beyond "someone watches all the stories on VHS tapes", I don't even care. I turned it off a few minutes before the end in order to reclaim my life, take back the night, etc etc.

I know this is an anthology and there isn't time to really dig in and indulge in amazing storytelling, but here's the thing: each story in V/H/S/ 2 feels like the result of "Wouldn't it be cool if this happened?", which, you know, is perfectly fine. Build your segment around a premise! That's what many writers and directors do. But for fuck's sake, if there is going to be dialogue, the premise alone is simply not enough. The only successful story in this film is the second one, the zombie with a GoPro. It's entertaining and it works because it's a rare case where the idea alone is enough. The main character is like "I'm gonna ride my bike!" and then he does, and then he gets bit, and then he attacks people, the end. It's novel and kind of funny, and that's all it needs to be.

But every other story is brought down by dialogue that consists largely of "What the fuck?" "Fuck you!" "Fuck fuck!" "Fuuuuck!" and so on. Now, I am certainly not averse to such colorful language; you might even say I am a connoisseur des cusses. But thinking back on some of my favorite anthologies–films like Creepshow–it's the writing that sets it apart. More to the point, it's the characters. Creepshow is nothing more than a bunch of "Wouldn't it be cool if this happened?" stories–wouldn't it be cool if mean ol' dad came back from the dead? Wouldn't it be cool if there was a monster in the crate? But the script, although full of plenty of "fuck"s, puts the characters over the premises, and that's a huge reason why it's so memorable.

Granted, I realize that none of the dudes behind V/H/S 2 are on the level of Creepshow's George Romero or Stephen King. But still, it's worth trying to go beyond "What the fuck?" *jump scare* "Fuuuuck!" *head blown off with shotgun* "Fuck fuck fuck!" *gore*

I don't know, maybe it's me. And that's fine! There are many flavors of horror, after all. It's just that this exposure therapy doesn't seem to be taking, and honestly, I'm not going to try anymore.


CashBailey said...

Stacie, did you see the ABCS OF DEATH movies?

The first one was mostly lame but the second one was a vast improvement.

Jeffrey said...

I thought the Indonesian demon segment was pretty well done, in a "what the hell is going on" kind of way, but otherwise this movie is pretty miserable, and the You're Next guys continue to be terrible.

Nicholas Kaufmann said...

Sounds like it was just as bad as the first one. What a wasted opportunity both these films are.

Kensington said...

You know, as bad as the "V/H/S" movies are, it could have been worse: it could have been "The ABC's of Death!"

Yummy Pizza said...

Aw, I really enjoyed the Indionesian one.

Meanwhile, yesterday I watched The Manitou for the first time and lemme tell you it won't be the last because HOLY FUCK that was awesome.

Nicholas Kaufmann said...

@Yummy Check out Graham Masterton's novel the movie is based on, also titled THE MANITOU. It makes more sense than the movie does! ;-)

Merrill Womach said...

I was curious if you'd like any. I only enjoyed the second story as well. It was cool to see the Blair Witch folks still finding neat ways to use found footage when it's so saturated in the genre. I only liked the last segment from V/H/S, maybe one day i'll make my own V/H/S compilation with the few chapters worth watching.

Yummy Pizza said...

Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

Yeah...I thought the Indonesian cult story was the outstanding piece and did not care for the rest.

Miskatonic said...

The Indonesian One was outstanding. Five Stars.
The Blair Witch Bicycle One was surprisingly fun. Four Stars.
The rest, Trash. One Star.

Will said...

It's still miles and miles better than V/H/S 1.

Rob K. said...

I hear you loud and clear on the Bro Horror thing, Stacie. I once Netflix-streamed something called John Dies at the End and made it maybe 10 minutes before the suffocating Bro-ness of it all overwhelmed me and I shut it off. The VHS movies are far more watchable but still don't have a lot of ideas percolating underneath their initial premises.

Stacie Ponder said...

This is all my own thing to deal with, but I'm just kind of getting used to the notion that a "horror fan" isn't any one thing. I think folks inside and outside the community have this idea of what a horror fan is, but there are actually so many variables...the genre has so many subgenres, etc, they don't ALL have to appeal to you in order for you to be a "real" fan, you know? A horror fan might hate vampires or slashers or gore or whatever, but that doesn't make their love of the genre as a whole any less. It's really's the only movie genre that's like this, I think.