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V/H/S: Viral (2014) Review

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VHS: Viral (2014) - Found Footage Films Movie Poster (Found Footage Horror)“V/H/S: Viral”
is a found footage horror film released in 2014 and is the third installment in the V/H/S franchise. Like its predecessors, “V/H/S: Viral” is comprised of a series of independently shot short films (segments), with a wrap-around story that neatly ties all of the stories together by the end of the feature.

While all three V/H/S films follow the same basic formula, they each have their own uniqueness setting them apart. Of the three films, the original V/H/S has the most authentic found footage feel, with video glitches and static used sparingly where necessary. V/H/S/2, on the other hand, is a high energy adrenaline rush with an equally deafening soundtrack to match. “V/H/S: Viral,” feels like a composite of the first two films, staying true to the found footage approach of V/H/S, yet with the same intensity of V/H/S/2. Also worth noting, “V/H/S: Viral” ups the ante by adding a barrage of CGI video glitches and more camera sources than seen in any single found footage film.

For this review, we’ll look at each of the three segments in the anthology and (the fourth) narrative thread that ties “V/H/S: Viral” together.

V/H/S: Viral” ups the ante by adding a barrage of CGI video glitches and more camera sources than seen in any single found footage film.

Vicious Circles (Directed by Marcel Sarmiento and Written by T.J. Cimfel, David White, and Marcel Sarmiento)

“Vicious Circles” is the glue binding the three short films that make up “V/H/S: Viral.” The segment starts with a videotape of a couple, Kev and Iris, who are on a romantic getaway. In the first scene the couple films themselves on a bridge overlooking an aqueduct, and we learn later on that the aqueduct plays a central role in “V/H/S: Viral.”

“Vicious Circles” includes a myriad of disjointed scenes of our couple as they go about their lives. Kev is obsessed with his camera and dreams of the day where he can film an event that will go viral on the Internet. In a pivotal scene, the couple sees a live breaking news story on the television of a police chase involving an ice cream truck headed towards their apartment. Kev rushes outside with his camera to capture the action. At the same time, Iris hears music coming from her cell phone that puts her into a deep trance, causing her to walk into the middle of the street where the police chase is taking place. Soon thereafter, we learn that Iris is abducted and is now in the ice cream truck being chased by the police. Kev starts after her on a bicycle in a rescue attempt.

Unlike prior incarnations of the V/H/S series, the wraparound story in “V/H/S: Viral” is more tightly integrated with the other segments of the film. In fact, all of the segments in “V/H/S: Viral” share the common theme of satanic rituals and demons, and the wraparound story brings the film to a satisfactory (and also somewhat confusing) conclusion towards the end where everything converges.

All of the segments in “V/H/S: Viral” share the common theme of satanic rituals and demons

The wraparound story creatively and effectively uses found footage throughout, except for the last scene of the segment, which appears to employ an off-set camera source. One minor criticism, which holds true for much of the film in general, is that there’s too many CGI generated video glitches. Relying more on raw cuts between scenes with strategically placed video glitches would have toned down the transitions, adding more focus to the story. The use of the ice cream truck music serves as a great backdrop to the chase scenes, providing a creepy vibe and an excellent use of in-set audio sources.

“Vicious Circles” is highly entertaining, containing ample gore, unique camera angles, many camera sources, humor, and interesting sub-plots that play into the main thread, keeping things fresh. For example, there’s a subplot involving a backyard BBQ that ends in a gore-fest that is gut-wrenchingly funny. The wraparound plot in V/H/S: Viral is far more entertaining and fun to watch than the first two films in the V/H/S franchise.

The use of the ice cream truck music serves as a great backdrop to the chase scenes, providing a creepy vibe and an excellent use of in-set audio sources.

Dante the Great (Directed and Written by Gregg Bishop)

“Dante the Great” is filmed as a mockumentary intermixed with news footage and narrative from the perspective of Scarlet, a magician’s assistant to “Dante the Great,” a world famous magician. The mockumentary walks us through the humble beginnings of Dante, who tries to make a go at becoming a magician, but is not very good. “Dante the Great” is best described as “Harry Potter breaking bad.”

It’s not until Dante comes upon a magic cloak, rumored to have once belonged to Houdini that his career takes off. Dante uses this cloak to perform unexplainable magic, including teleportation and levitation that propels him into the spotlight.

Most of the found footage comes from a hidden stash of video tapes discovered by the authorities. Found footage sources also include police surveillance cameras, stock footage from Dante’s live performances, and establishing shots filmed for the mockumentary portion of the segment.

“Dante the Great” is interesting, fun, and highly entertaining. Not only does this segment fit well in “V/H/S: Viral,” but also makes a great premise for a standalone feature film in its own right.

“Dante the Great” is interesting, fun, and highly entertaining. Not only does this segment fit well in “V/H/S: Viral,” but also makes a great premise for a standalone feature film in its own right.

Parallel Monsters (Directed and Written by Nacho Vigalondo)

 “Parallel Monsters” is about a scientist, Alfonso, who invents a machine that opens a doorway to a parallel dimension where he meets his “other self.” In the parallel world, Alfonso’ doppelganger invents an identical machine and the two scientists meet when they both activate the machine at the same time. The two Alfonsos decide to swap places in each other’s world to explore. It isn’t before long that Alfonso discovers that this parallel world may seem identical to his own but is far from it. Alfonso notices a picture on the wall where his wedding photo should be, but instead finds a photo of a satanic ritual. He also runs into his doppelganger wife, Marta, who is far from the reserved woman we’re introduced to earlier in the segment. This second Marta is dressed provocatively and is engaged in a tryst with two male partners, and invites Alfonso to join in. From here things go from bad to worse for Alfonso, as he makes some shocking discovers that send him spinning on a roller coaster ride for survival.

“Parallel Monsters” ratchets up the tension as Alfonso figures out the rules of this newly discovered world. After making some key discoveries, the tension reaches new heights when Alfonso comes to realize that his doppelganger is alone in his house with his wife. Similar to “Dante the Great,” this segment is well acted, has a great plot, and is lots of fun to watch.

Bonestorm (Directed and Written by Justin Benson)

“Bonestorm” is best described as being inside a first person shooter game, because that’s exactly what the segment feels like. The action is filmed primarily from the perspective of helmet mounted cameras on our protagonists, a group of skateboarders scouting for the perfect location to film skateboarding stunts. After having been kicked off the premises of all their local venues, the group decides to head to Tijuana, where they know of an aqueduct that’s perfect for skateboarding – this of course is the same aqueduct we see in “Vicious Circles.”

When the group arrives at the aqueduct, they find the remnants of a satanic ritual along with other religious artifacts. The group starts skateboarding, intentionally desecrating the site in the process. Soon thereafter, several figures approach the group, and what follows is an action packed gore-fest.

“Bonestorm” is somewhat similar in gore and non-stop action to the V/H/S/2 segment, “Safe Haven.” The combination of extreme close-ups, headshots, and non-stop movement by the skateboarders makes this segment a blast to watch. The “kill shots” are insanely fun to watch and unique in execution, with gore to match. The audio used during the “fight” scenes is muted, amplifying the bone ratting sounds, keeping true to the segment’s namesake, and creating unique and interesting experience. “Bonestorm” also sports what may be the first “throat cam” in the history of found footage.

“Bonestorm” is best described as being inside a first person shooter game, because that’s exactly what the segment feels like.

Conclusion

Of the three films in the V/H/S franchise, “V/H/S: Viral” does the best job bringing together all of the segments in the anthology. Each of the three shorts in “V/H/S: Viral” share common plot elements with the wraparound short, resulting in a more coherent and cohesive story than the first two films in the V/H/S series.

As mentioned earlier, “V/H/S: Viral” contains more camera sources than any found footage film to date, including: camcorder, phone camera, head mounted camera, chopper cam, traffic cam, security camera, webcam, news footage, mockumentary footage, and last but not least, a “throat cam”!

Good

  • Tightly integrated wraparound story
  • Most camera sources used in a found footage film
  • Each short film has a very unique plot
  • Great humor in all the right places
  • Ice cream truck music provides a creepy feel to the chase scene
  • Throat cam!

Bad

  • Too many video glitches
  • Last scene of the film is filmed from an off-set camera source
  • Wraparound story ending is somewhat confusing

Summary

V/H/S: Viral has something for every found footage film fan: gore, humor, great plots, non-stop action, embedded sub-plots, lots of camera sources, and creative cinematography. This film is a perfect addition to the V/H/S trilogy.
7.7

Site Rating

Realism/Immersion - 7
Reason for Filming - 8
Found Footage Purity - 8
Believable Cinematography - 7
Believable Acting - 8
Plot - 8

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