Sundance 2013: S-VHS reaction

Horror compilation V/H/S has only just hit UK cinemas, but sequel S-VHS has already been scaring audiences silly at Sundance.

A portmanteau movie once again comprising four found-footage horror shorts directed by a variety of up-and-coming genre filmmakers, S-VHS plays like all good sequels: bigger, better and a lot more intense.

The wraparound concept this time out (directed by screenwriter Simon Barrett) follows a private investigator and his female companion as they break into the house of a missing person and, you guessed it, stumble across a pile of creepy-looking video cassettes…

From there it’s straight into the four shorts, with S-VHS ticking off a wider range of horror sub-genres than the original film.

First up it’s returning director Adam Wingard’s ‘Clinical Trials’, the tale of a man fitted with an experimental, artificial eye after losing his own in a car accident. Filmed entirely from the protagonist’s POV, it’s not long before he starts seeing more then he’s used to in this superior and relentlessly jumpy instalment.

Next up is Blair Witch director Eduardo Sanchez and producer Gregg Hale’s effort, ‘A Ride In The Park’: the project’s funniest entry that offers a different (yet still suitably gory) take on the zombie movie.

The Raid ’s Gareth Evans and Timo Tjahjanto take over for ‘Safe Haven’, S-VHS ’s longest, grisliest and batshit-craziest segment that follows an Indonesian film crew as they document the commune of an enigmatic cult. Needless to say, bad stuff ensues…

Rounding things off is Hobo With A Shotgun helmer Jason Eisener, whose ‘Slumber Party Alien Abduction’ is the weakest contribution. A story that pretty much does what it says on the tin, it’s loud, frenetic and condensed enough not to outstay its welcome, but it can’t possibly compete with the bedlam of Evans and Tjahjanto’s centrepiece.

Whereas V/H/S varied the tempo of its component parts, there’s absolutely no room for breathers here… S-VHS moves along at a clip and, while far from perfect, it’s admirably ambitious and consistently entertaining.

The audience at Sundance certainly seemed to agree: laughing, whooping and screaming in all the right places. No wonder the producers are planning a franchise…

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