Ummm talk about a whole bunch of half baked ideas.
Any horror fan has at least heard of the horror anthologies called V/H/S, short films enclosed in a bigger narrative which tries to freak and titillate it’s audience. I was a big fan of the first and even the second had some nice strong shorts even if it strayed a bit from the genre of horror. Well by golly V/H/S Viral plays more like a Twilight Zone episode than any horror film I’ve ever seen. I know horror can be many things but Viral is so focused on science fiction-esque plots that the idea of being scared by the film seems near impossible by the end.
The film starts with a couple canoodling and uses some of the most annoying editing of ‘VHS tapes’ I’ve ever seen, it then cuts between past and present. **Before I keep reviewing I just need to say that most of the films in Viral have no factual plausibility in reality. It is all found footage (filmed on digital cameras etc) but the way it is edited in the films is like the directors said, “Ah shit I want a better birds eye shot that no hand-held camera can give me. Why don’t I just shoot with a normal camera using a crane for a few seconds and no one will know”. I’m no techie but the way it sometimes uses shots makes no sense for a found footage film and just seems lazy to me. Choose between one style or the other. Lazy.** So the first film is the big narrative and when things start to go weird we are then shown the first short film about a magician who finds a magical cape that eats people. Yes this would be fun for a D-grade horror film, but to play for actual scares is a joke. It reminded me a lot of those Goosebump episodes from the 90’s. No real scares just a super weird narrative.
Then back to the main narrative about a car chase between an ice cream truck and the cops. Oh god I’m terrified….Not. Ok now to a new story. Here’s hoping it’s a tiny bit scary. We cut to a scientist who has made a portal to a alternate-reality. The door for the portal opens and he sees himself in the same room. He says hi to his alternative-reality version and they decide to swap worlds for 15 minutes. BIG MISTAKE. The scientist heads in only to find that in this new world everyone’s genitals are monster like creatures that KILL! Told you, it’s like some a episode from the Twilight Zone.
Ok the last short was kind fun, being a skater myself it was a cool idea to have some bad-ass skater kids fight a zombie cult in Mexico. Not scary in the least but at least it was tongue in cheek and gory as hell. So we then come back to the over-arching narrative which has one WEIRD-ASS, stupid, no sense ending. Well at least it wasn’t boring, however I think the message it is trying to tell is about people’s obsession with viral videos but with the silliness of the ending it is impossible to take any of it seriously.
I’m not saying this film is BAD but it is lazy. There are a lot of ideas but none are really made into full fruition. Just a lot of things being thrown at the screen for people to say “ah looks cool bro” which is unfair for people who like a little substance in their horror. Viral is weird but not weird enough. It definitely strays from the other two V/H/S in the series but at least the others had more varied and thought-out films. With more laughs than scares and a constant questioning of WTF, V/H/S Viral is a giant penis-monster mess.