An expelled college swimmer spends the summer working for his brother, a journalist for the Miami Times, as they try to piece together a case of potential wrongful conviction on the case of a murdered law enforcement officer. But things aren't cut and dry as emotions and motives continue to sweat and burn in the hot Florida heat. Lee Daniels directs The Paperboy with interesting story telling techniques that do and do not always work. It's a searing mystery who's puzzle doesn't give you all the pieces yet forces you to put it together.
V/H/S/2 was miles better than the first film (which was one of the worst films I saw last year). I actually enjoyed all the "tales" this time around, although AGAIN none of the shorts actually appear to look like VHS... I have no problem that they are not shot on VHS, but if they are being played off of a VHS tape they better damn well look like VHS, and if widescreen should at least be letterboxed 4x3! It's an interesting format for an anthology, but it should be called P/O/V/2 instead of V/H/S/2 as virtually every story is either mainly or entirely shot from a first-person perspective. I'll try and review the "tapes" without any real spoilers, so here goes:
"Tape 49" (Wrap around segment) - Directed by Simon Barrett
The two private dicks are a lot less annoying than the idiot thieves from the first film, but it's still the weakest link of the stories and a rather disjointed wrap-around that's payoff is marred by the fact that if this wasn't broken up by the actual "tapes" it would have been a short loop with characters you don't care about what happens to them. 2/5
"Phase 1 Clinical Trials" - Directed by Adam Wingard
The director of the wrap-around from the first film opens the "tapes" with the story of a man with an injured eye (played by the director himself) who gets a new eye courtesy of a new technology where he's signed on as guinea pig. He can now see, but the catch is everything in his new camera eye is being recorded for data purposes and sent to the company. And it may have some glitches, such as being able to see ghosts. A few jump scares but not really inventive or engaging. 2.5/5
"A Ride in the Park" - Directed by Gregg Hale and Eduardo Sánchez
The producer and the director team up on this short, breezy "tape" involving a cyclist and his GoPro helmet camera as a leisurely morning bike ride has him encountering zombies. A refreshing dose of zombie carnage that's more rooted in black comedy than horror which pays off with its very interesting perspective. 3/5
"Safe Haven" - Directed by Gareth Evans and Timo Tjahjanto
A group of documentary filmmakers are granted access to the secured remote compound of a controversial and secretive Indonesian cult. The longest of the "tapes" and also by far the best, Safe Haven is an absolutely insane horror short that packs punch after punch that is gory, shocking, and expertly constructed. Evans and Tjahjanto manage to build characters, layer plot, and manage to both disturb and entertain. All the different camera perspectives work, and the outcome of its execution is a roller coaster that is probably the single-best "horror film" of the year so far. If this had some more room to breathe as a feature film this could indeed have been a modern horror masterpiece. 4/5
"Alien Abduction Slumber Party" - Directed by Jason Eisner
The title says it all. A group of kids with the house to themselves pull some slumber party pranks on each other, but in the middle of the night the prank is on them as a group of aliens decide to abduct them. The GoPro on the pet dog is an interesting perspective, but the strobing flashlights make things a little hard to see whereas instead of really seeing what is going on in the frenzy of the attacks we can only really piece things together from the sound design. It makes it chaotically intense, but not realistically sound. It's a touch too ADD filmmaking, although still a fun ride with some well placed laughs and jolts. 3/5
Overall, V/H/S/2 is a huge improvement over it's predecessor and pretty good overall, but it's still marred heavily by it's less-than-accurate title and portrayal of VHS. I'd be in for a third, but they really need to step away from the direct POV or "first-person-shooter" style of filmmaking. Somebody get these people a VHS camera and put it on their shoulder.
Brewce Martin runs Skatopia on his land, a sprawl of concrete and wooden ramps, bowls, verts, and everything in between. His own utopian paradise has outcasts and everyone else wanting to skate there and everything from partying to fireworks to bands to demolition derbies take place there. No law, no rules, just anarchy.
Entertaining doc that follows a man living his dream while trying to survive to continue to build it. Skatopia is both darkly funny and kind of depressing at the same time, as the contrasts of Brewce's visions and ego both make and break those around him.
A vacation to Death Valley turns deadly after Billy, his mom, and her new boyfriend are the target of a serial killer whom might get caught because young Billy stole something from the scene of one of his crimes, linking him to all the murders.
Death Valley is an odd slasher-thriller hybrid that's desert and western-themed locations provide interesting locations for cat and mouse games, but pacing issues and a killer without a backstory lead to a rather flat film overall.
After her car breaks down in the Australian countryside, a woman witnesses a murder on the farm she walked to to get help. The only problem is that the police find no body and no dug hole, and that the murder she might have witnessed would have taken place in 1944! So with the help of her yet unconvinced boyfriend, the two try to piece together the puzzle of Frenchman's Farm and what it has to do with Napoleon! Starts off strong, but ends with a fizzle. The VHS also seems to be missing about 15 minutes of plot as the ending, and possibly some of the middle, seem to be missing certain plot points...
A concert pianist is found pushed off a cliff, her face a bloody pulp and completely unrecognizable. Her husband is the main suspect after she was rumoured to be having an affair, but soon more suspects and red herrings begin to complicate the investigation as Jack Taylor attempts to find out the truth - which may cost him his life. Convoluted thriller that has it's highs and lows, but ultimately looses steam.