Since horror anthologies are all the rage nowadays and I personally get a kick out of most of them, I figured I’d take a stab (pun absolutely intended) at reviewing the third installment of V/H/S.
This latest chapter takes the series “viral”, and nearly puts me to sleep in the process. The sad part is I want to dig V/H/S as a series, I really do. I adore the concept, but generally loathe the execution.
I sat through the first entry uninterested and unimpressed. I sort of grooved to the second film (the best of the series in my worthless opinion). And this newest addition had me baffled.
V/H/S Viral is divided into four segments. “Vicious Circles” by Marcel Sarmiento, “Dante the Great” by Gregg Bishop, “Parallel Monsters” by Nacho Vigalondo, and “Bonestorm” by Justin Benson and Alan Moorhead. With a bonus segment, “Gorgeous Vortex” by Todd Lincoln included after the credits on the DVD and Blu-ray releases.
It’s not entirely clear why Lincoln’s segment was cut from the main feature at the last minute, but I’ve read that they didn’t think it fit with the overall theme of the movie. Which one of these shorts did then?
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl)
“Vicious Circles” is the wraparound segment of the film. An extremely chaotic and uncoordinated mess with no engrossing characters or situations to keep the viewer invested. Kevin (Patrick Lawrie) is obsessed with making a video that will go viral and make him famous. He gets that opportunity when he sees on the news that a police chase is occurring down the block from his house. Against the wishes of his girlfriend Iris (Emilia Zoryan), he runs out to videotape this chase. But he’s not alone. Apparently a bunch of people saw and were influenced by the movie Nightcrawler, because there’s a whole mob of Louis Bloom’s running around with cellphones, trying to capture the high-speed chase. And what is this captivating pursuit? A swarm of police cars following a renegade ice cream truck that’s leading them around in circles and plowing through anyone that gets in its way. As the wraparound reaches its conclusion, it ultimately leaves you feeling lost, confused, and unfulfilled. A very frustrating note to end on, which is usually the case with the V/H/S series. It never reaches its full potential and we never really get any straight answers in the end, just more questions.
Dante the Great
Directed by Gregg Bishop (Dance of the Dead)
A man (Justin Welborn) comes into possession of a cape that allows him to transform into the world’s greatest illusionist. The cape allegedly belonged to Harry Houdini once, and it scared him so much he abandoned it without hesitation. Because in return for fame and fortune, the cape demands human sacrifice. Something the illusionist who dubs himself Dante the Great is happy to oblige. This short is packed with clever, nifty effects. And while this segment is not as great as its eponymous character believes himself to be, it is indeed a fun ride from beginning to end. Unarguably the best segment of the film.
Directed by Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes)
This is the most disappointing segment of the film, if only because it started out so strong. Alfonso (Gustavo Salmeron) is experimenting with time travel and parallel dimensions when he encounters his doppelganger and they agree to switch places for a brief period of time so they can explore one another’s worlds. Alfonso steps into this parallel universe and while everything looks the same, this world that Alfonso has stumbled upon is extremely different from his own. There are so many directions Nacho Vigalondo could’ve taken this segment in. And he basically mailed it in. A brilliant concept wasted by standard horror-exploitation drivel. How do you come up with something so intriguing and then fail to capitalize on it.
Directed by Justin Benson and Alan Moorhead (Resolution)
Four annoying, obnoxious teens head down to Tijuana to film a skateboarding video (why not?) and unfortunately step upon sacred ground. The grounds seem to be protected by two strange women, a man who does nothing but chant gibberish, and a mob of Skull and Bone Faces as they are referred to in the credits. These Skull and Bone Faces drop like flies at the hands of the skaters who use their boards to defend themselves. It’s pretty hysterical watching these skinny little nothings take down a Mexican death cult with relative ease. But I’m almost positive this wasn’t meant to be a comedy, unless you count the three kids not remembering the name of their fourth group member and referring to him as “Gas Money Kid”. And like most V/H/S shorts, this one is all sizzle, no steak. They taunt and tease us with this creature the cult is supposed to be protecting, but when it comes to showing it, we never get the money shot.
Directed by Todd Lincoln (The Apparition)
The bonus V/H/S segment by Todd Lincoln offers nothing we haven’t seen before, and visually, it made me dizzy. Jayden Robinson (the Empress as she’s referred to in the credits) is ostensibly a serial killer who targets other females as her victims. She is stalked and shadowed by a group of strange men in white masks, who she is linked to or connected with in some way. At the end of the segment, the Empress finds herself in the “Ritual Room”, where a gaggle of women and a strange creature await her. I actually fast forwarded through the credits for this?