Review: V/H/S Viral Feels Like a Rushed Anthology Effort

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vhs viral 250review score 5The first two V/H/S movies are a blast. Like all anthologies, the quality of the segments varies, but each features at least a couple really strong ones, and since it’s an anthology the weaker ones are over fairly quickly.

Gory, funny, and occasionally pretty nasty, they are good fun, especially when viewed with a raucous crowd of horror lovers. They also served as a great showcase for promising young directors. Not to mention the second one actually improved upon the original, something that doesn’t happen too often.

The third time around, though, is a different story. V/H/S: Viral is easily the weakest of the three. The segments, with one exception, don’t feel fully realized, and the whole thing comes across as a little rushed and haphazard.

The wraparound segment, directed by Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl, The ABCs of Death), concerns a young man desperately searching for his girlfriend during a police chase. He furiously peddles around Los Angeles streets following an ice cream truck he believes she is in as the police chase the same vehicle. It doesn’t add up to much and is more filler than anything.

Next up is director Gregg Bishop’s (Dance of the Dead) “Dante the Great.” This one shifts in time as a magician’s assistant tells the police about Dante the Great, who was a loser before coming across a magic cloak. First he uses the cloak to become a rock star magician, and then he starts using it for nefarious means. Dante’s magic tricks offer up some great effects, but watching him shoot his hands around maniacally, even when he’s harming people, is more silly than anything else, and this very short segment isn’t fully fleshed out. It’s a decent idea that needed a few more drafts.

Next up is the highlight, the only really good segment, one that almost redeems the entire endeavor. “Parallel Monsters” is from director Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes, Open Windows). The less said about it, the better, but it’s about a man who constructs a machine that opens up a mirror world. He and his other self decide to cross over into the other’s world for 15 minutes. It does not go well. Increasingly bonkers, it’s weird and unpredictable and awesome.

Last up is “Bonestorm,” from Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (Resolution, Spring). A group of extremely obnoxious and annoying teenagers head to Tijuana to do some skateboarding. They find a secluded spot that is being used by a cult or something to summon a creature. Forced to fight for their lives, they use a gun and their skateboards to kill and re-kill the cult members. It’s got some nice carnage but is repetitive and unintentionally goofy.

Clocking in at about 75 minutes without credits, V/H/S: Viral isn’t boring, and each segment is appropriately gory, but outside of “Parallel Monsters,” no segment leaves a lasting impact. They end, you think “Eh, that was okay,” and you forget it. They seem like a rough draft not given enough time to fully develop, which holds true for the movie as a whole. It would be a shame if this is the last one. If so, the V/H/S series goes out with a whimper. 

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Weekend: Aug. 22, 2019, Aug. 25, 2019

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