Don Sumner - Editor in Chief
Justin Benson, Gregg bishop, T.J. Cimfel, Ed Dougherty, Todd Lincoln, Aaron Moorhead, Marcel Sarmiento, Nacho Vigalondo, David White
Justin Benson, Gregg Bishop, Todd Lincoln, Aaron Moorhead, Marcel Sarmiento, Nacho Vigalondo
Emmy Argo as Scarlett
Nick Bianco as Danny
Jawed El Berni as Skull Face
Emilia Zoryan as Iris
Dan Caudill as Officer Gregory Hughes
Angela Garcia as Carolina
V/H/S: Viral is the third installment in a series of films centered on horror shorts with some kind of common theme. In this latest effort the focus is on teens obsessed with capturing the next video sensation.There are five segment titles for this compilation, Georgeous Vortex, Dante the Great, Vicious Circles, Bonestorm, and Parallel Monsters. Full disclosure: I’m not completely sure where “Gorgeous Vortex” enters the equation, so for now that is being left out. If I get a correction and some direction as to where this particular short lies, it will be added. Each segment represents the viral video gone terribly wrong for each of several heroes and heroines who’s videos wind up on VHS tapes in the back of a rogue ice cream truck. What? Read on…
Kevin (currently uncredited in IMDb) and his girlfriend Iris (Emilia Zoryan) are happy and in love, with Iris supporting Kevin’s dream of becoming a superstar with a cam corder when he finds that perfect video that goes viral across the world and catepults him to fame and fortune. Well, she supports it for a while. The strain of living with Kevin’s parents along with the fact that he continues to NOT find that superstar-making video turns the poor lad darker and darker. Then, the moment arrives – on television there is a high-speed chase involving an ice cream truck and several police cars, and the pursuit will bring the drama right by Kevin’s house! Just as Kevin arrives on the scene, in time to miss everything happening, Iris gets a text accompanied by a sign stating “It’s Time”. Now in a trance, Iris walks outside to converse with an unknown stranger before vanishing.
Vicious Circles is a nice start, though a pretty lengthy lead-in to the Ice Cream truck, which is later discovered to have a box of video tapes inside that depict the untimely demises of several other viral-video seekers, the first of which is…
Dante the Great
A magician’s assistant relates to police officers events surrounding her ex employer, a magician who just one year earlier was the hottest ticket in the trailer park. Dante’s fortunes seem to turn when he finds a cape, an actual magic cape, that brings his illusions up a notch or two. The only trouble is that use of this cape comes with a price.
Dante the Great is a well done vignette with some excellent characters and performances, along with credible effects and gore. This is a definitel standout among the other entries in V/H/S: Viral.
Have you ever seen a movie about a mad scientist who toils away in the basement in search of the next big scientific discovery? Those scenarios never go well, and Parallel Monsters is no exception. This particular scientist attempts to build a gateway between parallel universes, and amazingly he succeeds to find an “exact” replica of himself on the other side. He and his counterpart decide to swap sides for 15 minutes to explore, and at first it seems that each world is indeed just like the other, albeit a mirror image. It doesn’t take long for the gentleman from the universe that most of us typically occupy to find that his new-found universe has some unfortunate differences he didn’t account for, and ultimately nobody from our world is safe.
Parallel Monsters is actually pretty fascinating, and though it’s difficult from the literature and coverage now available for this film to know which director is responsible for this vignette, I’ll take a risk and suspectl that this is the work of Nacho Vigalondo (Time Crimes). I can’t prove it, and if this is incorrect please provide correction, but this vignette contains the same sorts of ironic unintended consequences that Vigalondo displayed in his film about the perils of time travel and trying to change outcomes of the past. Regardless of who’s created it, this vignette is a strong offering that plays just right, and is just the right length to pack a punch without unnecessary details.
When a group of skater punks decide it’s a good idea to film their desecration of the site of an evil cult’s rituals, it’s pretty clear that things will not turn out well. This is a horror movie after all. The romping of these kids awakens some ghoulish figures who would have been better off left to slumber.
Bonestorm is the jerkiest of all of the vignettes, referring to the found footage movement of the camera and action. This fact doesn’t detract from the effectiveness of the sequence, however, as it is an “all hell breaking loose” short with a lot of running away and trying to avoid being killed by crazy evil Mexican ghouls. If the camera were smooth, well, that would have been stupid. This sequence is the scariest of all of them, and rounds out the action well by adding some great energy and mayhem to the mix. The lesson is clear: When in Tijuana, stick to the Donkey show.
Interesting thing, V/H/S: Viral. On one hand all of the shorts are top notch, being well acted and delivered. The stories are compelling and the disastrous fate suffered by all is satisfying and carries at least a shred of believability (in spite of the inherent unbelievability – you know what I mean). One possible exception is the wrap-around, which beyond allowing for the presentation of the Ice Cream truck also throws in the degregation of the relationship between Kevin and Iris and her strange text message. There are some attempts to wrap this up in the end, I guess, but ultimately it felt a bit out of place considering the context of the other shorts.
On the other hand, there’s a connection problem with V/H/S: Viral as an anthology. There is the connection of the quest for viral footage for YouTube, but ultimately the wrap-around doesn’t do a good enough job wrapping around and turning the film into, ultimately, a single story. This isn’t a huge criticism, but it exists – the weakest link is not in any of the vignettes but rather in the packaging.
Admittedly, this third installment is being reviewed by one who has NOT seen the first or the second offerings. Perhaps there isn’t supposed to be enough of a wrap-around to gel the whole thing together, or rather maybe the creators of this series never were that good at it. It almost (almost) doesn’t matter though, because the strength of Dante the Great and Parallel Monsters is enough to make this worth a watch. I do have a question, too… are there really people who will put themselves in such peril for the chance of a viral video? Is there really that much to gain by having a one-hit wonder YouTube sensation? I’ll have to put a little research into that. I mean, I have a camera too, and there are lots of crazy things happening around here every day. Hollywood here I come!