DreadWorld Review : 'V/H/S : Viral' (2014)

When the original V/H/S premiered a couple of years ago, folks gave it shit because it was produced Bloody Disgustings Brad Miska. Some of the vitriol came simply from sour grapes because Brad is Brad and he's pretty well connected. However, a lot of that snarky BS would have been swept under the table had V/H/S been really good. For it's part, the anthology had a couple pretty good segments but was largely forgettable. By the time the sequel, V/H/S/2 rolled around, the never forgiving horror sub-community had sharpened their fangs and were ready to rip into Mr. Miska and V/H/S/2 with more gusto than the first time. However something crazy happened, V/H/S/2 was fucking awesome. Containing two all time segments and two solid segments, V/H/S/2 took a place amongst the Creepshosw of the world in the horror film anthology pantheon. And those pointy teethed vampires? Relegated to the Bloody Disgusting message boards to whine like little bitches.

That back story leads us right into the third installment in the series, the unfortunately titled V/H/S : Viral. As someone who lived throughout the video tap boom, V/H/S tapes never really went viral. Viral is an internet age invention. I guess you could stretch the term "viral" to mean underground traded tapes like Faces of Death, but then just call it V/H/S :Underground. Oxymoronic nomenclature bullshit aside, after the second installment knocked it clearly out of the park, the third entry into the anthology series was met with great anticipation.

Like all (good) anthologies V/H/S : Viral (and as an aside - for those of us that don't type that well, that's a bitch to get out) starts with a wraparound segment/ This one that not only bookends the stories but acts as a transition between the segments and is it's own segment itself, follows a guy looking for his girlfriend after she disappears during one of those famous Los Angeles high speed police chases. This one, in true, horror movie fashion, ends poorly. The wraparounds are good enough, although they have nothing to do with any V/H/S tapes at all, so that whole milieu is completely abandoned here in the third film.

Our first proper segment, comes from the mind of Gregg Bishop (Dance of the Dead) and the spirit of  'Tales From the Crypt'. Dante is a run of the mill loser from rural Atlanta, until he gains possession of a special magicians cape. Suddenly, Dante finds himself the most famous magician in the world. His illusions and tricks dazzle millions - my favorite was the couple who went to a show in New York and walked out the door into LA. But there is something sinister behind Dantes magic and his new cape. It's a good segment that could have benefited from more time - like the full half hour a 'Tales From the Crypt' would have afforded it. It glosses over the capes history and the reason behind its evil. More time would have afforded Bishop to create tension between Dante and the evil entity in the cape (wow, that sounds absurd) instead Dante is very unsympathetic and one dimensional.

Speaking of dimensions (segue man!) Nacho Vigalondo (Time Crimes) brings us the tale of a man who creates a portal to another plane of existence, only to find that his counterpart from the other dimension has done the same thing. What starts out as a happy, even at points inspiring story, turns tragic when both men learn that despite outward appearances, things aren't always what they seem. Vigalondo brings a wry sense of humor and dare I day morality (I think I do) to the best of the shorts presented in the set. It's all at once subtle, but with an uneasy foreboding that holds over it - even at it's lightest moments.

Subtle is certainly not the way you would describe the third and final segment of V/H/S : Viral. Justin Benson and Aaron Morehead (Resolution) present a skating trip to Tijuana gone horribly wrong in their entry to the series. Probably the most apropos of the three full segments presented in the anthology, three skaters hire a camera man to film them in hopes of creating that titular "viral" video. When they are not getting the results they need from what they are doing in Southern California, the camera guy suggests they go to good ol' TJ to get the good stuff. Now, we all have seen enough horror films to know that venturing to Mexico for any reason, never ends up well, and that's certainly the case here. Shortly after arriving they find what they thing will be a great spot to film. Unfortunately for them, a cult also thinks this would be a great place to hold their ritual to resurrect the beast living in the cities drainage system. It's an action packed segment that never lets you up to breathe once the craziness starts. The problem, again, is that it's an idea that certainly would have benefited from more time. And, I may be old, so chalk this up to age, but the way these kids talk was just annoying. I was rooting for the cult/skeleton people to rip their tongues out just so I dind't have to hear annoying skater talk anymore.

V/H/S : Viral is certainly not the disaster the bitter trolls on the BD message boards claim it is, but it certainly doesn't reach anything close to the levels of its predecessor. Frankly it's not as good as the first V/H/S either. It is certainly more consistent than that outing, but it's highs certainly do not match the highs from the first V/H/S. That being said, it's lows don't reach that low either. Check it out if you enjoyed part two, or have 81 minutes to spare.

** 1/2 stars out of *****

That's all for me. As always thanks for reading and "enjoy every sandwich." 

1 comment:

  1. personally I thought this entry was a mess. The first segment didn't even seem to BE found footage, the wrap around was complete nonsense and the last segment was extremely hard to follow because of all the insane shaky cam.

    On the other hand I have LOVED the rest of the series. The first two films are some of the best horror of the new millennium to me.

    As to the title of the film, I found it to mean that the VHS phenomenon from the first 2 films that turned people into zombies was going to break open and affect the world ala: The Ring concept of the cursed tapes. Didn't really work out the way I thought it would unfortunately...