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V/H/S Viral ( 2014 ) – The Good & The Bad

V/H/S Viral ( 2014 )

The first two installments of the V/H/S trilogy were pretty awesome Found Footage efforts that really showed the world what could be done with this style of filmmaking.

​V/H/S Viral is the third installment of this series and it has been long awaited in horror circles. Let’s take a look and see if it lived up to all the pre-release hype…

Good & Bad

Rarely have I been so pleased and so disappointed at the same time – this film suffered from the ‘swings and roundabouts’ syndrome.

There is an awesome Found Footage offering in the middle of the film by Nacho Vigalondo but unfortunately it is surrounded by rather tepid horror shorts.

I find it baffling that the producers of this film could not spot the obvious difference in quality. When they put it all together and sat down to watch it they must have had alarm bells going off in their heads, surely?

But it is what it is and they obviously thought this was a stunning third installment to the series…they were wrong!

The Plot

As you know the V/H/S films are small horror Found Footage shorts stapled together to make a feature length movie. This means it’s a tad difficult to nail down a single plot to the whole movie.

There is an underlying story line that runs through the whole movie and appears in intermission but if I’m honest – I have no real idea what the plot of this main story was!

I can only say that this main feature was centered around infections being sent through cell phones and a dubious runaway ice cream van ( or at least what I thought was an ice cream van! ).

But, as I mentioned above, the main selling point of this film was Nacho Vigalondo’s Science Fiction effort in the middle section.

Vigalondo’s horror short is entitled Parallel Monsters and it tells the tale of a man who creates a portal to a parallel universe just as his counterpart is completing his own portal.

This story had me gripped from pillar to post as it swerved and evolved with beautiful horror twists until it eventually ended up in complete chaos – a masterclass in Found Footage.

But that’s where the masterclass sort of stops in this feature – the remainder of the horror shorts are little more than entertaining at best.

We have the first offering that is entitled Dante the Great which decides to largely ignore the Found Footage cinematography in parts. It’s not a bad story but when you compare it to the shorts from the first two films you will be bitterly disappointed.

The final offering of V/H/S Viral is Bonestorm and this was again a little hit and miss. It follows a group of rather loathsome skaters to a secluded ditch in Tijuana where they pull pop stunts on top of a probably totally harmless satanic symbol.

For large sections of this short I was left wondering if the director was stuck for ideas to fill up his slot of film time. The story seemed to be as dragged out as possible but thankfully it does build to something impressive.

The ‘action’ of this horror short is the skaters being hounded by skeleton zombies – pretty awesome cinematography in this section!

It’s shot through the POV action cams on the skater’s head wear and it’s incredibly well put together. Some of these action scenes were breathtaking and really pushed the boundaries of Found Footage to new heights.

It’s actually a good job Bonestorm featured these scenes as it’s background story was complete shite!

Conclusion

I couldn’t say that I didn’t enjoy this film because I did – it’s just nowhere near the quality of the first two franchise offerings.

Most of the ideas in the film were brilliantly original but for some reason were half-baked. I feel the individual directors ( not including the wonderful Nacho Vigalondo ) really let the side down here – they were not up to the job.

It’s still a VERY decent Found Footage film but it suffers from to many holes and let downs. I pretty sure it’s going to get a luke warm reception from the horror community because of this.

A good film but unfortunately not a great one – sort of let’s the franchise down a little.

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Chris

5 Comments

  1. Only segment I had a real problem w/ was Dante magician piece. Most footage can be explained through doc crew being onsite during swat team invasion and Dante personal footage, with lil webcam thrown in at end but was annoyed with girl burning cloak in barrel scene… Who filmed that??? Also lacking in connection story half the time… Agree with nacho vigilando segment! You should watch and review “open windows” with Elijah wood!!! F’ing amazing!!! One of my top 10 found footage films ever!!! Is by Nacho vigalando as well! My faverite of his besides timecrimes but latter not a found footage project. Seriously watch “open windows”, unique little offering with suspense turned to 11!

    • Hi Brandon,
      I did watch Open Windows about a year back ( screener copy ) but I really have to watch it again to make my mind up. I can’t quite remember now – was it 100% PC footage or were there a few straight filmed scenes?
      Anyway, you’ve reminded me to go through it again so nice one for that! 🙂

  2. Seems to be true found footage. Are some scenes with computer composition of 3d environment using lots of small cams but part of story using program to piece together footage. Also enjoyed the villain being Niel maskell who played part villain part tortured bad guy turned good in uk series Utopia which is a masterpiece of a project!

    • Ah I remember Neil Maskell – he had an awesome part in Utopia didn’t he? Can’t believe they cancelled the series after the second season – typical Channel 4 decision! 🙁

  3. Unlike many I quite liked the ‘wraparound’ – although it could have done with a bit more explanation. Dante the Magician was my favourite overall. Viral was not as good as V/H/S or V/H/S 2, but it was enjoyable enough.

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