Tuesday, February 17, 2015

V/H/S: Viral (2014)

V/H/S: Viral (USA, 2014) - Color, Director(s): Justin Benson, Gregg Bishop, Aaron Moorhead, Marcel Sarmiento, and Nacho Vigalondo
MPAA Rating: R
Approx. 82 min.

Z-rating: 3 stars out of 5

Cheese Factor: 3 stars out of 5

So despite the VHS motif, this time we're going with a viral video theme. The last two movies tried to stick to the concept even though there was no way some of the segments could possibly be recorded on VHS (i.e. the Skype segment from the first one or the prosthetic eye segment from the second one).

The wraparound segment this time isn't about people watching VHS tapes. Instead, an ice cream truck is leading the police on a high speed chase through L.A. and everyone is trying to get their own footage of it. One guy runs out into the street in time to see the truck pass and his girlfriend disappear. How any of this actually leads into the various segments is not explained.

Regardless, our first segment is about a stage magician, Dante The Great, and his assistant. Dante was a nobody until he somehow got ahold of a magic cloak that supposedly belonged to Harry Houdini and becomes the greatest magician in the world. This is easily my favorite segment in the entire movie. I don't want to spoil too much of the story but a stage magician playing with dangerous powers he might not fully understand is a fantastic concept.

Next up, we have a Spanish-language segment is about a guy who builds a portal to a parallel dimension in his basement. After opening the door, he is greeted by an alternate version of himself and they agree to switch places for 15 minutes so they can explore each others world. The more time he spends in the alternate dimension, the more he realizes that things are not what they seem. Takes awhile for this one to get going but once it starts to ramp up, it gets really nutty before you know it. This segment does lose some points for teasing a Satanic orgy and not following through. 

A group of douchebag skaters travel to Tijuana in search of good times and a location to finish their skating video in the third and final segment. I don't have a problem with skaters in general but these guys are really obnoxious. Things get interesting when they stumble upon what appears to be a sacrificial site and they're suddenly surrounded by members of a bizarre cult. Any tension this scene might've had is completely broken by the hilariously stupid comments of the skaters. "Yo, do crackheads have fire blood?" Next thing you know, the segment turns into a first person shooter (à la Doom) as one of the skaters start shooting undead cult zombies. The beginning of this segment almost reminded me of Larry Clark's Kids.

Nudity: Pretty much none. They tease nudity on a couple occasions but nothing is explicitly shown. The beautiful girlfriend, Iris, in the wraparound segment teases flashing her breasts to the camera but it's covered up by static. There's also a bit in a taxi where a girl is taking her clothes off but she only gets down to her bra and panties before stopping. 

Gore: There's some gore in this movie, a police officer is hit by the ice cream truck and his severed arm lands on the sidewalk. There was also tons of blood during the skater vs. cult members brawl. Nothing too visceral but lots of blood spewing.

Awesome: The ending to the wraparound story didn't make a whole lot of sense but that's true of the series as whole. I just think it's funny that we see all these VHS tapes and tracking adjustments but everyone's got a smart phone and digital camcorders. I will give it credit for not wasting too much time before jumping into something interesting since found footage films tend to waste at least a half hour setting up the plot. I can't really say this movie was scary but it was interesting. The magician segment is definitely my favorite and the one about parallel dimensions was bizarre, like a live-action Japanese hentai. The skaters' segment was starting to get good but it ended before anything cool happened. Worth checking out if you're a fan of the series thus far. The Blu-ray comes out today, so click here to buy your copy. From what I understand, a segment directed by Todd Lincoln was cut from the original release but will be included as an extra for the DVD/Blu-ray release.