Friday, May 24, 2013

Movie Review—VHS 2

This is a weird year for me and the Seattle International Film Festival. Normally, there's about 15 to 20 movies I want to see, and I know I won't have time to see that many, so I'll pare it down to 6 to 10 movies and still end up having to miss at least one for some reason, because the festival always seems to time itself for the Gen Con rush and Paizocon, and deadlines wait for no film festival.

So I was pretty excited this year that our Gen Con rush hit a month early, and when Paizocon was a month later than I expected it to be, because that more or less left me with a pretty open schedule to see movies at SIFF.

And then, the schedule came out, and something strange happened. There was only one movie I really wanted to see. It was the least interesting SIFF I've seen. Usually there were a lot of cool horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and action movies to choose from, and then in wading through those options I'd find other cool movies outside of my favorite genres to see as well. This year... no luck.

I saw the first VHS last year at SIFF and was quite delighted; it was my favorite movie of the festival. This year, I saw VHS2, and it was my favorite movie of the festival THIS year. And not only because it's the only movie I'll be seeing at SIFF. It's actually as good as the original. Better in some ways, worse in others, but overall a delightful entry in the found footage category.

As with the first one, the framing story has some investigators discovering a strange situation in an apparently abandoned home revolving around a creepy stack of VHS tapes, and it's the contents of those tapes that make the movie. It's a found-footage anthology movie, and one thing that always seems to happen with anthology movies is that there's one good or really good segment, but the others are varying degrees of mediocre or outright bad. Creepshow dodged this problem, and so did both VHS movies.
Sometimes you can tell when a scene in a movie is about to get pretty violent.

Whereas the 1st one had 5 shorts, this one only has 4, but each one is better than the worst one from VHS. Here, we've got victims dealing with a state-of-the-art cybernetic eye that lets you see more than you probably should or certainly want to see, a mountain biker out on a trail eager to try out his new cameras and who rides smack into the midst of a zombie apocalypse, a team of documentary filmmakers investigating a creepy cult compound on what's destined to be the most important day in said cult's history, and a group of kids fooling around while the parents are out of town but a singularly spooky set of visitors from far, far away happen to be IN town.

I liked the third one the best—the idea of having a film crew on-site when a cult prepares for the end of days and things suddenly spiral out of control is in and of itself fascinating... especially when it turns out the cult leader might actually be on to something!

  • ... never quite equals the greatness of the first film of the first movie, but it's good all the way through.
  • ... does some things with the zombie movie genre I've not yet seen done before, and that kind of surprised me in a pleasant way.
  • ... isn't the goriest or most violent found-footage movie I've seen (that award ties for Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox), but it's a lot more entertaining than the goriest or most violent found-footage movie I've seen.
  • ... has me ready to see VHS 3 next year at SIFF. Hopefully I'll be seeing more than that though!
Grade: A

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