V/H/S: Viral, 2014
Directed by Justin Benson, Gregg Bishop, Todd Lincoln, Aaron Moorhead, Marcel Sarmiento, Nacho Vigalondo
Follows fame-obsessed teens who unwittingly become stars of the next internet sensation.
About 10 minutes into V/H/S: Viral, you’re suddenly struck by two thoughts. Not only is this the third entry into a series that has yet to produce a movie that isn’t abhorrent, but more worryingly it’s a series that people are willing to pay to watch. What is it about this horrible franchise that people gravitate too? However a more interesting question would be to ask what those people made of V/H/S: Viral as its a complete departure from the previous two movies to the point where it could be from a totally new series. It’s still rubbish, but it is different for the better. Sometimes.
The plot thread of the house with the video tapes is gone and in its place is a book end found footage movie about a guy chasing an ice cream van that has seemingly kidnapped his girlfriend via various means. It features some obnoxious and headache inducing editing and sound techniques that remind you just why you hate the found footage genre and V/H/S in particular and the story is incomprehensible and incredibly contrived that the whole thing is just infuriating. With so many terrible found footage attempts plaguing the horror genre, this is among the worst.
But then we get “Dante the Great” directed by Gregg Bishop and you realise that he’s a man who does not care about this movie franchise or the found footage gimmick. And if he does, he certainly doesn’t show it. Instead, he just wants to make an interesting, well shot and well directed short horror movie centring around a magician who raises to fame after gaining access to cloak that can perform genuine magic. “Dante the Great“ has some amazing visuals, a wickedly fun fight scene and an amazing style. It’s inconsistent sadly as it goes from documentary to mockumentary to found footage to surveillance footage and is even shot like a normal movie for much of the fight scene. With a bit of work, “Dante the Great” would actually be a great feature length movie.
Similarly, the fantastic Nacho Vigalondo brings us a wonderfully trippy ‘mirror world’ horror in which an inventor creates a portal to another version of his life and finds its full of people like him, but more monstrous. It’s a very clever movie and both this and Bishop’s “Dante the Great“ deserve to be in a much better anthology horror.
And they do deserve better, because they are place alongside the final segment of V/H/S: Viral which is utter toss. It’s arguably the most fun as a couple of skaters beat the holy hell out of a group of voodoo worshipers in Tijuana, but it’s filmed in such an annoying fashion it’s impossible to enjoy. Everything is shot with a Go-Pro or on cameras attached to the skateboards so the footage is so erratic that you’ll struggle to keep your food in your stomach. The character suck too, but that’s become a standard practice of these horrible movies. If it weren’t for the bookending story, this would be the worst thing in the movie by leaps and bounds.
So we’re three movies into this dreadful franchise and we’re no closer to an answer as why horror fans like it, but at least V/H/S: Viral has some shining moments of creativity. People can argue that Gareth Evan’s “Safe Haven” from V/H/S/2 is the best segment of the trilogy, but it doesn’t hold a candle to “Dante the Great“. In a way, V/H/S: Viral is the best movie yet because only half of it is awful, but it still sucks.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.