D: Marcel Sarmiento (Vicious Circles)/Gregg Bishop (Dante the Great)/Nacho Vigalondo (Parallel Monsters)/Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead (Bonestorm)/ 82m
Cast: Justin Welborn, Emmy Argo, Gustavo Salmerón, Marian Álvarez, Nick Blanco, Chase Newton, Shane Bradey
The latest in the found footage horror series, V/H/S Viral strays further and further from the original concept, partly it seems to avoid accusations of “more of the same”, and partly in recognition that the VHS format is now too outdated to work effectively (either way, just how many empty houses full of old tapes can there be?).
Beginning with the wraparound story, Vicious Circles, where a guy ends up chasing the ice cream van that he believes holds his kidnapped girlfriend (and which is already being chased by police), the movie then tells the bizarre story of Dante the Great, a magician who comes into possession of a cloak (once owned by Houdini) that allows him to really do magic – but at a price. It’s a bit of dumb fun, more interested in showing off it’s gravity-defying stunt work than exploring the idea of possession by an object. In terms of found footage it’s also the most contrived, with camera placements in places where they’re really unlikely to be, and with too many used sources for the footage to have been put together in the way in which the segment is presented.
The middle tale, Parallel Monsters, concerns a scientist, Alfonso, who creates a doorway to an alternate universe – in his basement. He meets a replica of himself and the two explore each other’s houses, but while they seem identical, Alfonso soon discovers that not everything is the same in this other universe. It’s a mix of Cronenbergian body horror and sci-fi conventions that has an unintentionally hilarious bedside moment before reaching its predictable climax.
The last tale, Bonestorm, features a couple of skateboarders who travel down to Tijuana to skate at a remote storm drain only to find they’ve upset the local devil worshippers who try and kill them before the devil in the drain tries as well. Of the three stories this is the worst, mixing POV shots of the skaters offing dozens of extras dressed as devil worshippers with the kind of crass dialogue that makes you wish they’d die before they even get to Tijuana.
With the wraparound story proving too confusing to make sense, as well as having no connection to the three tales – a fourth tale, Gorgeous Vortex, was cut to provide a “smoother” running time (whatever that means) – V/H/S Viral is too far removed from the first two movies to be effective, and the material is weak throughout (it’s like watching Halloween (1978) and Halloween II (1981) and then wondering if Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) was really the best they could come up with).
Rating: 3/10 – a very poor sequel that can’t even be bothered to put its tales into any kind of context, V/H/S Viral is lacking in almost every department; tired, and horrible (as opposed to horrifying), this sequel is one that even fans will want to disown.