Wednesday, 22 October 2014

31 Days of Horror: V/H/S: Viral (2014)

V/H/S: Viral (2014)
Director: Various Directors
Starring: Emmy Argo, Amanda Baker and Rim Basma
Running Time: 81 min

Much like the "ABCs of Death" franchise, I can appreciate what the "V/H/S" series is films is doing for young and upcoming talent in the horror biz.  Unlike the ABCs, these directors are given longer segments, which means there are fewer spots in the program.  To be honest, I haven't been that crazy about the V/H/S films, there has been some interesting pieces by Ti West, Radio Silence, Jason Eisner and the team of Gareth Evans and Timo Tjahjanto, so I'm really hoping that this collection of terrifying tales is going to be great.

The first story and the continuous thread that ties these shorts together, is about a young couple who are in love and one night while watching TV, they see a police chase is going to drive down their street, so the boyfriend decides that if he can video tape this ice cream truck being chased by the cops, then he will become famous with a viral video.  So, instead of going outside right away, the couple argue and when they finally get outside, it seems like they missed their opportunity. Shucks!  But luckily the evil ice cream truck is doing another loop and when it does, it scoops up the girlfriend.  Now armed with a video camera and a bicycle, the boyfriend pursues the evil ice cream truck with hopes to save his girlfriend and be an internet sensation or vice versa.
  As the boyfriend chases the truck, his cell phone flickers with screams from his lady friend and we are swept into a story about a shitty magician, Dante The Great" that finds a magic cloak and soon becomes the most amazing magician ever!  What is his secret, probably the magic cloak but what else is happening to all his assistants that are mysteriously disappearing?
  Then, it's a story about a gentlemen who builds an alternative universe machine and discovers that things may look the same on the other side but in reality are a lot different.
  Next is a story about a some skateboards who are trying to make the greatest skate video alive and go to mysterious skate spot in Tijuana.  Unfortunately, they get more than the bargained for when they arrive and have to fight their way out to survive!
  Finally, it cuts back to the original story of the young couple and whether or not he can save his girlfriend from whatever the ice cream trucks deal is.

 I think the highlight piece of this film has to be, "Parallel Monsters" by Nacho Vigalondo (Extraterrestrial, Time Crimes).  This is a captivating story with an excellent twist that will have you on the edge of your seat until the reveal.  For a found footage film, the cameras aren't as intrusive and there aren't any moments, when you get pulled out of the story.  The reveal is great and the make up and effects stuff is very cool as well.
  Also, I dug the the make up and special effects in Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead's "Bonestorm" as well.  There is a lot of blood and I liked their nod to the "Tombs of the Blind Dead", with the hooded priests. 

  With this series, I've come to expect to be disappointed by the continuous thread piece and I was not let down on this one as well.  In "Viscious Circles" director Marcel Sarmiento takes an unlikeable couple and puts them in a situation I could care less about.  The only person that the boyfriend seems to be shooting video of, is his hot girlfriend and I'm surprised that this character would take the time and energy to go out and shoot a police chase or even go after his girlfriend if she was kidnapped.  Also, there are shorter vignettes within the thread that are kind of necessary... but are just kind of lame and that time could have been better spent to put towards making the thread piece more interesting.  **SPOILER**  The look of the end piece of this is actually interesting in a "Videodrome" sort of way, but there is absolutely nothing leading to this and it just makes it seem, disjointed and sloppy.  It's looks like the just tacked it on.  **ENDSPOILER**
  I really like the concept of Gregg Bishop's "Dante The Great" with the magical cape but the very beginning of the piece is so all over the place, that the story becomes irritating.  It jumps to past and present and I don't know why anyone would still video tape themselves doing terrible things.  **Spoiler** Why would any one with the prestige that "Dante the Great" have continued to video tape himself committing murders and feeding people to the cape.  It's ridiculous.  Also, the police saw the videos, so why wouldn't they take the cape off him when he is arrested in the first place?  Isn't that a given?  He gets the power from the cape, so fucking take it off.  **ENDSPOILER**  The short does actually redeem itself halfway through, but the beginning is just so aggravating that it spoils the piece as a whole for me.
  As for "Bonestorm", I liked this story because it reminded me going to mysterious skate spots and although there wasn't any ritual sacrificing there, except for our boards at times, we still had some spooky sessions back in the day.  Anyway, what put me off at times with this film was the use of the helmet cams.  **SPOILER** During the battles with these monks, there are a lot of shots of the main characters faces and not enough smashing and killing evil monks.  More violence, less faces being scared please. Also, I found this very reminiscent of the "Safe Haven" piece from the previous V/H/S outing, which sadly makes it somewhat derivative and tame.**ENDSPOILER**  Like I mention earlier, the make up and FX are worth checking out because they're decent but I wish the story could have been a little more original and we didn't see the characters faces so much during the battle with these evil monks.

  I really wanted to like this and there are some aspects of this film that are really great, like "Parallel Monsters" and some of the writing and special effects but a lot of the stories seem rushed and not as well developed as they could or should be.  I think that this is a building block type film because there is a lot of good raw talent here, that just needs the time to develop and I'm glad that "The Collective" and "Bloody Disgusting" are giving these guys this opportunity to get their work out there.  I'm not crazy about this film as whole, but it does have some redeeming qualities to it. 



  1. Note on Dante the Great: It was evident in the movie that the reason the cops don't take the cloak off Dante when they arrest him is that they (or any other rational person) doesn't believe in anything supernatural. They detective interviewing her makes this clear. Even if they saw the tapes, they would have thought they were doctored (he is a magician after all).

    The reason that Dante films himself killing is explained at the top when the assistant girl says: "he recorded everything, he always needed an audience". It was always justified to me as he was a narcissist.

    1. I remember her saying that "he always needed an audience", I just thought it was a cheap in. Also, if I was a detective whether I believed in the supernatural or not, I would have removed the cape as a precaution after seeing what it could do. These points are made in the movie, but I don't have to dig ego-maniacal cartoon villainy and dumb movie cops pushing horror plots forward.

  2. Well, those were just details and didn't really have anything to do with moving the plot forward. How were the cops dumb? These weren't dumb movie cops, nobody in the real world is ever going to believe in a demon possessed cloak, no matter what. lol. They would remove a gun, but not an article of clothing if they didn't have to. Totally within the realm of possibility. They think he's full of shit. :)

    Also, he's someone who had nothing that suddenly had whatever he wanted. I felt like he was coming off "cartoony villainy" too lol until the beats with Dante's mom, which gave him that extra dimension that made him human. :)

    1. You have a valid point about the police and I can see where you're coming from but I just don't like how the writer dealt with this aspect of the story and I still don't think the police would let a magician suspect keep his cloak when arresting him. If not a monster hiding in it, but another kind of weapon. :)
      Same with the arrogance of the character, I agree with you that the character was needy and that this new world he was in drove his ego but I wish that the character would have had more common sense. Also, they could have used found footage camera aspect better. Like, what if the theatre surveillance camera's had caught the killings and Dante was to dumb to realize that they were there, instead of him just simply recording them as a trophy. I just think there could have been a better way of handling this situation. :)
      So, I agree with you that the story does offer reasons for these actions, but I just don't like them and I think the writer, if maybe given more time, could have come up with something a bit more inventive and interesting. :)

  3. i agree with the poster above. in fact 'dante the great' is my top 3 favorites of any vhs. the others being 'safe haven' and 'parallel monsters'

  4. Yeah, just like the 1st one, there were some interesting aspects of it, some stuff that was clever, but overall the whole thing felt rushed and some parts fell flat. Bummer, this series could have really been something great that would stick out for a decade or two.