V/H/S: VIRAL's segments include the story of a deranged illusionist who obtains a magical object of great power, a homemade machine that opens a door to a parallel world, teenage skaters that unwillingly become targets of a Mexican death cult ritual, and a sinister, shadowy organization that is tracking a serial killer. The segments are tied together by the story of a group of fame-obsessed teens following a violent car chase in LA that unwittingly become stars of the next internet sensation.
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★★★★ review by Matt Lavender on Letterboxd
No Safe Haven this time around but it doesn't matter. Pretty pervy within the first few minutes but it's not as bad as the first one. Sick police chase. They said "viral", they said the name of the movie.
So the first short is about an evil magician which is sort of cool, hasn't really been done in found footage before. This dude has a magic cloak that gives him legit powers. I liked that idea. Some of the CG is ropey as hell and it's done in a faux documentary way which is a bit weird. Has some fun bits though, SWAT vs Magician. Pretty goofy but solid enough.
The second short is about a dude who builds a machine that opens a portal into a parallel universe. Lots of cool camera tricks and clever stuff with this one. The universes are the same except for one painting...and some other serious shit. Almost a black comedy in tone. There is some insane stuff in this one and I kind of loved it.
The third short is skateboard kids (dropping Faces of Death references) vs Mexican cultists which is an awesome idea and I would seriously watch 90 minutes of it. Great imagery, lots of blood and mayhem. Genuinely loved this one. Sort of Paranoid Park meets Army of Darkness. The kids are a bunch of shitlords but who cares.
The wrap around is chaotic and huge in scope compared to the previous movies. It's a bit weird and scrappy but decent. Kinda relies on that whole "we're glued to our phones/cameras/tragedy porn etc" shit but it's pretty nuts.
Overall it's much more streamlined than the first two movies and feels really energetic. It's so hard to describe but it feels more off the wall and generally much weirder, like no one gave a fuck about logic or sanity. I get why people won't dig it but it worked so well for me, liked it loads.
Just looked up the dudes who made the third short, turns out they made Resolution too so they're awesome
★★★★½ review by Waldo on Letterboxd
Out of the other VHS movies I found this one the most focused and best. All the stories were very good. I didn't find a weak one that brings it down a bit and then recovers, the first one is good, the second bad, kind of thing, none of that. The Dante the magician was solid, the parallel worlds was great and the skaters in Tijuana was the standout. Bloody and relentless. Also the story that binds everything was good in an apocalyptic way. Really good entry to the series.
★★★½ review by rotch on Letterboxd
Jamás hubiera imaginado que V/H/S se convertiría en una de las franquicias de horror moderno más uniformemente exitosas. Claro, tratándose de antologías, son películas bastante disparejas. V/H/S Viral es quizas la menos dispareja de las 3: tres segmentos en lugar de cuatro, todos divertidos, ninguno espectacular y un wrap-around genuinamente desastroso. Uno por uno:
- El primer segmento es sobre un mago con una capa mágica. Divertido, y como mencioné en mi reseña de Lord of Illusions, necesitamos más películas de horror con magos. Esta no da mucho miedo, pero es muy divertida.
- El segundo, de Nacho Vigalondo, es sobre un tipo que inventa un portal a otra dimensión en su sótano. Es genuinamente encantador y está dentro de los mejores cortos de la serie. Es vulgar, ridículo y exageradamente divertido. No da miedo. Ahora que lo pienso, nada en esta entrega da miedo. Todos los cortos apostaron por la diversión. Pequeña perdida.
- El tercero, de los directores de Spring (que estuvo también y gustó mucho en Fantastic Fest, pero no pude ver) es sobre unos patinetos que van a un lote valdío en Tijuana a andar en patineta y se encuentran con un culto de adoradores de satán. De nuevo, pura diversión, y me dejó con ganas de ver Spring.
El wrap-around en serio ni tocarlo. Horrible.
Por último, que ironía que esta trilogía se llame V/H/S, cuando el found footage en el horror y el VHS casi ni se tocaron. Blair Witch salió en el '99, año que se considera se popularizó el DVD. Y luego peor, ésta se llama Viral... cuanta contradicción en un título.
★★★½ review by Cliff on Letterboxd
Easily the strongest of the V/H/S found footage horror anthologies, the thing that unites the four short films here is that they'd all be better without the first-person technique. The first segment - the Faustian story of an illusionist with a genuinely magical cloak - even shamelessly abandons the conceit altogether for its exciting climax. Timecrimes director Nacho Vigalondo delivers the best entry, in which an inventor creates a portal to a parallel universe, only to discover that his alternate self and his alternate wife are some sort of satanist swingers. Last up is the unusual combination of black magic occultists and zombies under a blazing Mexican sun, and fortunately the splatter and creature design is good enough to overcome the obnoxiousness of its teenage skateboarder "heroes" and their shaky helmet-mounted cams. As per tradition for this series, the wraparound story, which concerns a young man on a bicycle trying to catch up with an evil ice cream van, is smothered beneath artificial video glitches which just leave you wondering why everyone doesn't take their cameras back to the shop already.
PS: There's an extended version featuring an additional segment, which is a dialogue-free, abstract, unfocused musing on surveillance, sexuality, objectification and consumerism... I think. It's very stylish, to the point of looking like a perfume ad, but too oblique to have much impact, and may even be annoying enough to lower my score of the overall anthology to 3 stars, were it included. Curiously, this one isn't even done as found footage, which may be why it was dropped.
★★★½ review by Sean Andrew Brown on Letterboxd
Nacho Vigalondo wins indefinitely with his parallel universe segment that had me asking myself out loud at some points "what the fuck?".
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