Friday, 24 October 2014

V/H/S: Viral (2014)

I really liked V/H/S. I also quite enjoyed V/H/S/2, despite not finding it quite as good as the first movie. So I guess it's only natural that I ended up disliking a lot of this third entry in the anthology horror series.

Things start off badly. The wraparound idea this time is the worst of the lot. It just feels too erratic and static-filled, despite the fact that it links everything together effectively enough. Just. Thankfully, things pick up with the first tale, "Dante The Great". It is, like many of the better V/H/S tales, an old idea given a bit of a modern makeover. Justin Welborn plays a magician who finds his act getting better and better when he takes possession of a cloak that used to belong to Houdini. The cloak can give him amazing powers, but it needs something in return. The next tale is "Parallel Monsters", all about a man (Alfonso, played by Gustavo Salmeron) who finally completes his invention, a machine that serves as a doorway to a possible parallel universe. He meets another version of himself and the two decide to swap universes for a very short amount of time. Unfortunately, there are some major differences that Alfonso didn't take into account. Last, and least, is "Bonestorm", a fast and loose piece of nonsense about some skateboarders who find themselves in the company of some nasty demon types. And everything ends with the climax of the wraparound tale, which I should have mentioned was all about a man tracking down his girlfriend in the middle of some crazy events.

The strange thing about V/H/S: Viral is that the more I think about it . . . . . . . the more I try to convince myself I liked it. That's because of how good the first main tale was, and of how many individual moments helped keep the thing from every feeling too weak and slow. But, putting my more rational head back on, it IS too weak and slow. As much as I enjoyed "Parallel Monsters", for example, it's a tale that could have been told in half the runtime without any detrimental effect on the impact of the scares/gags. And I wish I didn't feel the need to go on and on about how bad "Bonestorm" was (from the guys who gave us the fantastic Resolution) but I do. Because it's one of the worst anthology segments I've seen in years, with the exception of anything from Ti West.

I've already mentioned Welborn and Salmeron above, and with good reason. They're the two best performers in the movie, involved in most of the best scenes. Everyone else is either hampered by bad material or epileptic camerawork, or both (yes, I'm on about "Bonestorm" again).

As for the talent behind the camera, Gregg Bishop is the hero of the hour, for it is he who wrote and directed "Dante The Great". Nacho Vigalondo is the man who wrote and directed "Parallel Monsters", and Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are the guys who have to take the blame for "Bonestorm". Marcel Sarmiento co-wrote and directed the wraparound tale, "Vicious Circles", which shows a huge step down from than some of his earlier work, and that covers all of the main names.

Would I still watch another instalment in this series? Yes, because when it works it works REALLY well. But I was looking forward to this movie, as I had looked forward to both of the previous films in the series. I won't be so optimistic for any future entries.


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