The anthology sequel that everyone's raving about is having it's theatrical run here, so the other day I headed across town to the one indie cinema that's screening it, only to find myself sitting alone in a completely empty theatre.
Given all the recent buzz for this, it was a highly anticipated movie for me, so it pains me to say that I found it to be somewhat of a disappointment overall, especially considering its horror pedigree. I really don't enjoy being negative, so I'm going to keep my grievances short.
Adam Wingard's smart and funny You're Next was one of my favourite flicks at this year's SFF, so I was a little let down to find his segment (Phase I Clinical Trials) feeling like a retread of the Pang brothers' 2002 creeper The Eye. After You're Next I was expecting something more inventive from Wingard.
To be fair, the next segment - A Ride In The Park - was genuinely amusing and sweet. Directed by Gregg Hale and Eduardo Sánchez, (the Godfathers of this whole sub-genre, if you don't count Ruggero Deodato), their gimmicky conceit of zombie mayhem as seen from the point of view of one of the ghouls did elicit a few chuckles. But again, I wasn't exactly wowed.
Hobo With A Shotgun's Jason Eisener turned in the weakest segment of the bunch with Slumber Party Alien Abduction. Honestly, despite its hyperkinetic pace and a few interesting visual flourishes, I thought it was just trite. Then again I wasn't the biggest fan of Hobo, so maybe I'm just not much of an Eisener fan.
Finally, Simon Barrett's wraparound - Tape 49 - didn't do much for me either. Some half decent prosthetics, and a close up of fake tits couldn't save this one from the pit of mediocrity.
Like I said, I really don't derive any pleasure from being negative, and I do admire what all these fine and talented people are attempting with the V/H/S flicks. Rather than pollute the internet with more nasty snark, I usually opt not to write about a movie if I don't like it, especially if I think the filmmaker's intentions are good (as I do here).
So why am I so willing to throw V/H/S/2 under the bus? Well, I'm not. Because buried in this mess of good intentions and mediocre outcomes is a gory little gem.
Timo Tjahjanto (of the gloriously violent Macabre) and Gareth Huw Evans (of the also gloriously violent The Raid) have delivered a mini-classic in Safe Haven. This little slice of Cult-worshipping, apocalyptic demonology is so utterly unhinged and eager to please, that it easily justifies the price of admission to V/H/S/2 on its own.
Epy Kusnandar is Father, the charismatic leader of a reclusive Jim Jones style Indonesian cult. Kusnandar seems to relish every second of his screen time, bringing an intensity and menace to the role that is a joy to behold. There's a mesmerising quality to his patriarchal/hostile performance that made me believe that this diminutive man could really instill awe and fear in people.
The simple plot follows a documentary film crew into Father's labyrinthine, rural compound, where they hope to uncover the truth behind some disturbing reports of sexual abuse within the cult. I'm not gonna spoil the fun, so suffice it say that what follows is a gleefully sadistic, creepy and ultra-gory trip to Hell. Fans of over-the-top Satanic horror will have a blast with this.
So Safe Haven saves the day (while simultaneously destroying the world), and it's got me really looking forward to Tjahjanto's upcoming Killers and Evans' highly anticipated The Raid 2. More Indonesian mayhem please!