What I'm Watching: V/H/S: Viral
Okay, I swerved last Sunday, but I guess I *should* get in V/H/S: Viral and wrap up the series of found footage movies. So let's dive right in...
Vicious Circles - Oh good, the movie starts off SUPER SLOW with a lot of random bits of scattered, disconnected, bouncing footage of a couple. It *eventually* gets going when there's a police chase that the guy wants to get on tape in hope of having a video he can upload and it will go...dun dun dun!...VIRAL! But just as it gets interesting, it abruptly stops so the next story can begin, with no real official actual 'framing' sequence. Nice, the movie starts on a complete dud.
As for the story, it's really just a long car chase half the time, with people randomly spouting off plot points for no particular reason, and with no particular logic behind them. "It's going around in circles for a reason!" Dude, last I saw you watched this thing drive by and hit a cop, how did you come to THAT conclusion??
Every time they come back to it, rather than deal with the story they started with in a fashion that's more than nudging it along, they instead drop in long random sequences of other people. Like we come back to the conclusion, and rather than focusing on the guy trying to find his girlfriend that disappeared in the evil ice cream truck, we get to ride with Pervy McHorndog trying to get a girl to strip in a cab until she pulls a gun and turns the tables. Whyyyy.
It DOES eventually decide to get back to the kid catching up to the ice cream truck, thankfully. But don't expect any sort of answers. His girl's in a tv in the truck, and demanding he flick upload, which sends all the videos we've just watched, wherever they come from. So...what happened? Who was driving the truck? Why were the videos making people's brains melt? Why was the truck going in circles and what was the importance? What was with the backyard barbecue of doom? The perv and the girl in the taxi? ANY of it?
Dante the Great - Aaaand the dudness continues with the first actual story, as it's not so much found footage, as a documentary about a magician who found an honest to gosh Magic Cloak. Oh, and it's evil! The story also breaks the cardinal rule of found footage by having stuff being filmed with zero obvious cameras.
It's a fun story though, about the cost of magic, and some really cool effects and stunts, at least. The end fight between Dante and his assistant Scarlett for the cloak is super fun, and uses magic and teleportation to cool effect.
Parallel Monsters - Well, at least this one actually seems to be proper found footage! It's about a guy building a machine, and uh, when he starts talking about 'the third configuration', alls I can think of is Hellraiser, and that's NEVER a good sign...
ANYways, the machine punches a hole into a parallel universe, that is a mirror of our own, and I mean that literally. Looking through the portal is like looking in a mirror, with things on walls placed on opposites sides, etc. Well, with the exception of Alfonso's watch, which is on the same wrist on both versions, but I digress. Also, THIS never goes well either.
As one can assume, things go horribly wrong as the two Alfonsos go into each other's dimensions and check things out on the opposite side of the bridge. The mirror universe Alfonso-1 finds is even darker than one might expect, full of orgies, antichrist zeppelins, and monsters out of the darkest imaginings.
Seriously the monsters are great. The faces are reminiscent of The World's End, sure. But beyond that, they are super original and disturbing. This is easily the best story of the bunch, but the bar is set pretty low. Fortunately, this one launches over the rest with ease. It uses found footage well, the story is good, with great creatures and good moments of terror.
Bonestorm - Wait, isn't that a video game in The Simpsons?? Ahem. So lets move on to the last story, which is a long, long bit of skateboarders filming their mischief via GoPros. And then smoking up for awhile before going to Mexico to do more drinking, and other illegal activity.
At least they find a gigantic pentagram someone doodled in a place that's good for some skateboarding, so they film themselves doing more tricks there. Because what could go wrong by doing ollies on the evil half-pipe? Until one of them falls and hurts himself, then makes the effort to RUN OVER TO THE GIANT EVIL GRAFFITI to make sure he bleeds on it. What are you even thinking??
But it calls forth some cultists so we can have a fight scene. A REALLY LONG FIGHT SCENE. During which one of the kids actually rushes over to his phone so he can turn on some music. I how much I hate that someone would pause in the middle of a life or death fight to turn on their personal sound track or realising that...I'm the sort of person who would pause in the middle of a fight to turn on their personal soundtrack.
There ARE flashes, brief moments of brilliance, funny lines and great one-off gags, but as punctuation in a really, really long fight scene, and that's all this 'story' is. The flickers of cool moments are too few and too far between.
Final Thoughts - Well, the first two movies were strong, this was largely a waste. A lot of running in most of the shorts, a complete disregard for anthologies and found footage, but it at least had a fun story in Dante the Great, and an actual good story with Parallel Monsters.
They clearly used up all the good ideas in the first few VHS movies, and this is little more than most of the stories being "people run around with cameras as they run around! That...that's found footage, right??"
Also, the wraparound story wasn't even that, didn't frame jack, and didn't nudge forward the backstory or mythology of the other movies. There's an argument that maybe it has some mild ties, but they're so weak as to be nonexistent.
But two out of four stories that are good or at least entertaining probably isn't THAT bad of a ratio, and while Bonestorm is just an extended fight scene, it's a decent enough one, so this just barely scrapes over into being watchable, but don't sweat it if you don't catch it.
It was interesting to watch the decline of the series over such a short span of time, and it was clear they ran out of the best ideas quickly. There's absolutely still life in this idea, but a fourth installment needs to get back to basics, and it's best to set it on the shelf for a bit, until you get people with actual good ideas and stories, rather than rushing out a cash grabbing sequel, because that won't work.
Antichrist zeppelins, man...