Sunday, October 19, 2014

Post. Publish. Infected: V/H/S Viral (2014)

V/H/S Viral (2014)
Rating: **1/2
Starring:  Emmy Argo, Amanda Baker, Rim Basma

Remember how V/H/S/2 gave us a promising look into the franchise by beating the first film as an entertaining found-footage anthology in almost everyway? Well my friends, Viral just knocked it back, not only to where it started, but perhaps a few more back.

Viral ditched the House full of presumably evil VHS tapes element and went on to something more "out there"; the wraparound, titled Vicious Circles, had us watching a video crazed teen boy trying to capture an unusual police chase involving that of a demented ice cream truck after finding out that the event was happening just around the neighborhood, much to his girlfriend's displeasure. As he ventures outside his house to catch the chase, his girlfriend was suddenly "infected" by a strange viral video that puts her in a trance and walking to near middle of the road. When the chased ice cream truck drove by, he finds her missing and assumes whoever was driving the truck kidnapped her.

Much of this wraparound revolves around him trying to catch up with the truck in hopes of saving his girlfriend, all the while we see people either dying trying to record the same chase or getting killed by accidents caused by it, as well as those who, somehow, gets infected with the same viral video that puts them in a homicidal rage.

Comparing this among the rest, Vicious is the lesser of the two awfuls in this anthology since, for a chaotic death porn, it's pretty intense if not altogether depressing as random acts of depravity and violence was simply bombarded at us in a near unforgiving manner. It's bleak but my true and only complain about this wraparound was it it makes no sense how it all connects with the segments, with each just popping out of nowhere (or in Viral's case, out of the static) and just happens. As if the crazy editing made it hard enough to follow this film but in the end, it raised more questions with its non-linear narrative and grimly mysterious nature, giving us something to ponder which I'm sure most of us wouldn't even bother with. For all we know was that whatever evil that forces people who watched those VHS tapes from the last two films to do or turn into nightmarish beings had finally made its way out of these houses and into the unexpecting public. Dark, grim and insane, but plot-wise? Not so much.

Now, the segments; it seems like the further this franchise goes, each entry is one segment shorter than the last. Now with only three segments, the first was undoubtedly the best of the bunch, titled Dante The Great, which is about a pathetic wannabe magician's sudden success in the world of illusions, thanks to a cape that was believed to have been owned by Harry Houdini himself. It somehow allowed him to do real magic but for a price: it must be fed!

Uniquely shown as a Found-Footage hybrid, utilizing everything from news interviews and clips, shots from security cameras, SWAT cams and Skype cameras, the segment was an entertaining piece despite it's more than obvious and ridiculous looking use of CG. It had energy, a quick pacing, cheesily acted yet interesting characters, and one of the nastiest magic-based massacres I've seen in a while. It was corny in nature but nonetheless fun, this segment that had me excited for the rest and with good hope, the next segment didn't fail to disappoint so far.

The second short was Parallel Worlds, concerning a Spanish man, a husband and a scientist, experimenting with a proto-type Dimensional Door that opens other realities. The footage shows what happened that one night it worked, meeting another version of himself in a world similar yet different. Out of scientific curiosity and excitement, he agreed with his other-self to switch places for a couple of minutes, to see what each other's worlds look like. Unfortunately for our scientist, the other world wasn't as safe as he hoped for and soon he is struggling to get back and save his wife from something frightening and dangerous.

It's weird for the sake of weird but, just like the first segment, Worlds had this cheesy feel that made it bearable in its short run and enough tension mixed in to keep us at the edge of our screen until the shocking if not unexpected ending.

Unfortunately, this is as far as Viral goes to keep itself entertaining, as the last segment blew it all. Titled Bonestorm, a trio of skateboarders with Go-pro cams on their helmets and skateboards, and their video recording fourth guy, travels to Tijuana to record all of their heaviest tricks for an awesome video but ends up fighting for their lives against a group of voodoo worshippers trying to awakened something, well, big and hungry. This should have been insanely fun if it wasn't for the annoying shaky quality of the videos. Not to mention all of those close-up shots of gored up heads and impaled bodies; now, I don't mind gory close-ups, really I don't, but to repeatedly bombard us with it just for the sake of gore with no other redeeming factor whatsoever, this is just desperate.

With no likable characters and virtually no story behind whatsoever, Viral's last segment just trailed itself with blood and ran into mediocrity just like that. Nothing frightening, nothing shocking, just loads and loads of gore shots that made this segment the perfect example of meaningless death porn.  So what exactly does this do for the entire movie?

Like the first V/H/S movie, Viral is a mixed bag, a literal half-and-half that balanced out the two bad entries with two worthwhile ones. Could have been forgiven if wasn't for the last effin entry, which makes me now wonder if that missing short, titled Gorgeous Vortex, would have improved this film. This being said, I might keep a lookout for Viral's future releases in hopes it'll include all of the segments and possibly redo this review but for now, all I can say is that this franchise now had its close call once, let's all hope it'll do better again!

1 male ran over by a truck
1 rabbit flayed
1 female beaten to death
1 female disappears inside a cloak
1 male had his neck broken
1 male had his arms broken, crushed
1 male had his neck broken
1 male flayed open
3 males shot dead
1 male set on fire
1 male impaled on a bed of nails
1 male dropped dead
1 male shot dead
1 male shot dead
1 male disappears inside a cloak
1 female killed offscreen
1 male fell off a bridge
1 male dragged behind a truck, dropped head first unto the road
1 male had his face devoured
1 male knifed to death
1 dog stabbed on the head with a barbecue fork
5 males and 2 females stabbed to death
1 male and 1 female immolated by explosion
1 male shot on the head
2 males shot
1 male beheaded with a machete
1 male caught on fire
1 male impaled through with a sword
1 male stabbed to death with a rib bone
1 male bludgeoned with a skateboard
1 male bludgeoned with a skateboard
1 male beheaded with a machete
1 male shot on the head
1 male bludgeoned with a gun
1 male bludgeoned with a skateboard
1 male bludgeoned with a leg bone
2 males and 1 female killed in freak car crash
1 female bludgeoned to death
Total: 50

1 comment:

  1. I've been looking forward to check this one out, but after reading your thoughtful and honest review, I'm not that keen anymore. Bugger.