Creating a new, unique take on the found footage horror subgenre has become increasingly difficult in recent years. For every successful and clever Paranormal Activity, there’s an equally unimaginative counterpart, like The Devil Inside. Sequels in the genre, such as the Paranormal Activity follow-ups, in particular haven’t fared as well with critics and audiences, as the storylines and visuals seem to become repetitive and uninspired. But the new horror thriller, V/H/S/2, has actually earned higher praise than its predecessor, last year’s horror film V/H/S, in part to its cunning visuals and more cohesive storyline.
V/H/S/2 follows two private investigators as they break into a missing college student’s abandoned house, after being hired by his concerned mother. But instead of finding him, they instead find his large collection of mysterious VHS tapes. While viewing the contents of four of the videos, the investigators realize they may have found terrifying motives behind the student’s disappearance.
Several of the filmmakers who worked on the short films in V/H/S/2, including Simon Barrett (who directed and wrote Tape 49 and wrote Clinical Trial), Adam Wingard (who directed Clinical Trial), Jason Eisener (who directed and wrote Alien Abduction Slumber Party) and Eduardo Sanchez (who co-directed and co-wrote A Ride in the Park), sat down in New York City last month during the Tribeca Film Festival to talk about making the sequel. Among other things, the helmers discussed how they all became involved in the series’ new installment, and how they experimented with new visuals to make V/H/S/2 more fun and thought provoking than the original.
Check out the full interview below.
WGTC: After the first V/H/S was released last summer and was successful at the box office, why did you all want to take part in the sequel?
Simon Barrett: Adam and I worked on the first film. Seeing how people responded to it at Sundance made us what to do a sequel. The first one came about in a haphazard way. We were trying to figure out what the movie was going to be, as we were assembling it over a year. So it ended up being a little longer than we expected. But seeing how audiences at Sundance reacted to it, we wanted to take the lessons we learned and try something different. We wanted to have a bit more fun with it. So I think that was our creative drive-seeing how audiences reacted to the first film. We wanted to do a better job.
Jason Eisener: For me, I was following the buzz of V/H/S when it was playing at Sundance. There was such a positive reaction from it, and it really intrigued me. Roxanne Benjamin, one of the producers of the film, contacted me and sent me a private link for the movie, and I loved it. I thought it was so energetic and creative in its use of its perspective. It was a found footage movie that really captivated me, so I thought it would be a really interesting challenge to become involved, and do something I was really passionate about. These guys turned out to be cool dudes, too, and we got to hang out.
Eduardo Sanchez: I got involved because I was asked if I wanted to be a part of it, and I said yes. The idea came about and Jamie (Nash) wrote (A Ride in the Park), and I loved it. It was fun, and these guys were great, except for Adam. (laughs) It was painless. I had just finished a Bigfoot movie (Exist), and had come down from that high of directing Bigfoot. So it was a whole different thing for me, it was great. The co-producer told me to co-direct it, and I said, “Great.” I was wrapping up Exist, and started doing pre-production on this. It was fun. We shot near my house, and I got to sleep in my own bed. So it was very nice.
Adam Wingard: I think Simon pretty much summed it up. I think we both saw the first film from the same perspective, it was this thing that just sort of happened. We just made it up as we went along. The second time around, we tried to work on issues we saw the first time around, like with the pacing. For me, doing another short for this, I just wanted to try something different. I had gone in one direction with the first film, using low-fi and crappy camcorders. So I wanted to try something outside of my comfort zone. so I went with this whole sci-fi angle.
WGTC: Did the way you made the first film influence the way you approached the sequel?
Adam Wingard: Definitely. The funny thing about it was that going into this one, we knew we wanted it to be 90 minutes this time. The first one was two hours, and it feels pretty long. Even though one of the best shorts is last, by the time you get to it, you’re exhausted from seeing all this stuff. So going into this one, we knew the amount of shorts we needed for it. We asked everyone to generally keep it under 15 minutes. Pacing wise, that was a big thing.
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