V/H/S Viral (2015)
Directed by: Aaron Moorhead, Gregg Bishop, Justin Beson, Marcel Sarmiento, Nacho Vigalondo
Written by: Aaron Moorhead, Brad Miska, David White, Ed Dougherty, Gregg Bishop, Justin Benson, Marcel Sarmiento, Nacho Vigalondo, T.J. Cimfel, Todd Lincoln
Starring: Chase Newton, Emilia Ares Zoryan, Emmy Argo, Justin Welborn, Marian Alvarez Gustavo Salmeron, Nick Blanco, Patrick Lawrie
Three more horror stories from the V/H/S series.
I’ve always been a fan of the V/H/S series. I’m a fan of short films, a medium so rarely seen and difficult to get hold of outside of festival performances, so it is good that there has been a small resurgence in anthology films, especially horror ones, of late and V/H/S 1 and 2 managed to be at the top of the bunch. Though, as is usual with anthology films, some of the segments were better than others, usually helmed by quality directors such as Adam Wingard, Ti West and Gareth Evans, the films managed a good hit rate with most of the shorts being genuinely entertaining, memorable and scary. So, I was looking forward to V/H/S Viral to provide more quality horror shorts. Unfortunately, this was very far from what I got.
Taking the same general form as the previous two, V/H/S Viral continues with several short films with one wrap around film, though this time the wraparound doesn’t feature the dilapidated house filled with VHS tapes that the first two used. Odd really since Viral doesn’t contain any VHS tapes therefore rending the title fairly irrelevant. Viral’s wraparound story, titled Vicious Circles, is about a mysterious ice cream truck that is involved in a police chase causing strange and violent goings on wherever the truck passes. A man, hungry for youtube fame, attempts to film the chase but when the truck goes past his girlfriend goes missing so he chases the truck to find her. This is barely a film at all really, just something to put around the other shorts. It isn’t entertaining, is annoyingly edited (using VHS fuzz and distortion is not an effective way of linking your shots) and ultimately has no pay off. A wraparound story is difficult but at least V/H/S 1 and 2 had a decent go at it.
The first full film is Dante the Great. An amateur magician rises to meteoric fame after finding a cape which gives him magical powers. However, the cape needs to feed on people. This film has a glimmer of an idea, a more modern take on the Faust tale, but the film never really goes anywhere with it. It mostly ends up just being an excuse to set up a magician action scene as Dante is assaulted by armed police, which is fairly well made and is slightly fun but wears thin quickly.
Second is Parallel Monsters from Spain. This is V/H/S Viral’s highlight. A man invents a machine that opens a gateway to a parallel universe. He and his parallel self agree to investigate each other’s reality but they turn out to be a lot more different than they had expected. This is a good idea and for the most part it comes off. For most of its duration it is interestingly weird as the difference of the realities slowly unfolds and this is a lot of fun. Unfortunately it devolves to become a bit silly towards the end but at least it sticks in the memory.
Finally, is Bonestorm. A group of teenagers accidentally wander on to a demonic site while filming a skateboarding video which causes cultists and the undead to attack them. This is just a skateboarding action scene filmed on Gopros. The characters are dislikeable and annoying. I hoped for a bit more once the demonic action started but it just goes nowhere. A boring slog.
V/H/S Viral is a major disappointment. Predominantly dull, not scary in the slightest and at its worst, actually annoying. A meagre interesting idea or two barely lift it out of the swamp. The V/H/S series will have to try very hard not to be consigned to the dump with all the other tapes.