V/H/S is an anthology movie that surprised audiences with its unique found-footage horror tales that ranged from the creepy to the outlandish. V/H/S 2 built upon the success of the first installment with even more extreme stories. V/H/S: Viral continues the tradition of presenting unusual found-footage stories while attempting to connect the three films. It is also a way to showcase the talent of a number of up-and-coming horror movie directors Does V/H/S: Viral improve on the films that have come before it or does the franchise finally need to be ejected? The answer depends on what you are looking for in your horror film.
The mixture of stories in this anthology range from a magician paying a high price for fame, to a man obsessed with opening the door to another dimension in his basement, to a group of teenagers looking to be the next internet sensation and end up finding themselves fighting for their lives. This theme of obsession is carried throughout both the short movies and the wraparound. It is presented in a variety of different ways, giving each story it’s own unique flavor.
The magician’s story entitled “Dante the Great” is presented in a mockumentary style rather than straight found-footage. The variety of footage styles kept things visually entertaining. The well done practical effects helped sell the realism of the magic tricks. The digital effects ranged from impressive to comical though there was no shortage of gore. It was a strong lead-in and it helped me get into the movie.
“Parallel Monsters” is a sci-fi horror story. The main character, Alfonso, successfully opens a door to another dimension and then regrets it. This story was written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo (Open Windows) and is subtitled. I enjoyed the fact that this was a sci-fi horror film that didn’t involve aliens, though it can be argued the alternate dimension version of humans were alien-like. I will say the reveal of the difference between them and us was humorous and grotesque at the same time. It did have a very predictable ending but the trip there was very interesting. Both “Dante The Great” and “Parallel Monsters” were more creepy than jump-out-of your seat scary which may disappoint some viewers. I found them a welcome change from the cliche jump scare horror we have seen come out of Hollywood.
“Bonestorm” was the most unpredictable out of the three short films. It really did not go where I expected, which is always a good thing. This was an intense tale about skateboarding teens awaking something they should not have and literally fighting for their lives. Through the POV shots from the teens various cameras, you felt like you were right there in the action. Unfortunately this short had the shaky cam shots that are often associated with found-footage films and at times it was very distracting. When the camera was not shaking, the shots looked really good. This segment has the most action in it and is the most scary and gory.
The theme of obsession is also in the wraparound as we follow Kev who is trying to be the next big thing on the internet by getting video of a high speed chase going through his neighborhood. The chase involves the cops and a strange Ice Cream Truck. Unlike the wraparound stories in the other two V/H/S films, this story is not taking place in just one location, it spans across an entire neighborhood. This made it more interesting as the audience is presented with short little scenes that show the effect the videos are having on people. Also, the ice cream truck was just creepy. I did not care much for the Kev storyline, but the scenes with a backyard cookout gone wrong and a video pornographer who has the tables turned on him were amusing.
While some people may be disappointed in the lack of scare-you-out-of-your-seat moments, the originality and execution of the stories as well as the general creepiness of the movie make V/H/S: Viral a fun film to watch this Halloween season. I was shocked, disturbed, amused and overall had fun with this movie. I give it 3.5 stubs out of 5.
Look for it on VOD October 23rd and in theaters in November.