V/H/S Viral is the final installment of the V/H/S series. Which is sad given how much the series has downgraded over time. The first V/H/S was great, the second was alright, but this one was either of those things. Horror anthologies are hard to get right. Here we see a lot of the problems I have with the idea along with some of the issues I have with found footage films rearing up as well. Not that Viral is completely without merit, I found myself enjoying one of the entries, but just the one. My main issue is the story that intertwines the film felt out-of-place and would have worked better as its own solid entry.
Viral opens with the wrap-around story Vicious Circles. Kevin (Patrick Lawrie) and Iris (Celia K. Milius) are a young couple in love. Kevin loves filming Iris, something that she seems to enjoy as well. One night a high-speed pursuit goes past their home and Kevin runs out to film it, hoping that the footage would go viral. While waiting for the chase to loop back around as the chase is going in literal circles, Iris gets a message are her phone that places her into a trance, during which she walks into the road. During the pass she’s abducted and Kevin chases after her, first on foot than later on a bicycle. The point between segments focus on small portions of the chase, gang members killing one another after receiving the same message which ends in an explosion. A woman trying to take a revenge on a man who posted a revenge porn video of her. Until Kevin is finally able to reach the vehicle containing Iris after is successfully evades police.
The first story Dante The Great, is about Dante (Justin Welborn) an elite illusionist and magician. His current assistant Scarlet (Emmy Argo) goes to the police after finding videos implicating the Dante has been killing is assistants, and Scarlet’s ex-boyfriend. The police go to arrest Dante after reviewing the evidence, only for Dante to start killing with magic. Magic bestowed by his cloak, one that one was once owned by Harry Houdini. Dante pulls Scarlet from the police station via magic to the stage of the theater where he performs. Scarlet manages to get her hand on the cape, while Dante holds the other end. Resulting in a magic battle.
The Second story Parallel Monsters, inventor Alfonso (Gustavo Salmeron) powers up his greatest invention. One that bridges two parallel universes. On the other side is another Alfonso. The two have a quick interaction before deciding to swap universes for fifteen minutes…
The final story Bonestorm, two skateboarders Danny (Nick Blanco) and Jason (Chase Newton) keep getting pushed into increasingly dangerous stunts by their videographer Taylor (Shane Brady). Taylor talks Danny and Jason into going Tijuana, one they recruit Gas Money Kid (Peter Villalba). After buying fireworks the group gets lost eventually finding a place to shoot their skateboarding video. Unfortunately the site is covered with religious markings and the worshipers show up mysteriously after one of the skateboarders bleeds on the symbols. The worshipers attack them, forcing them to fight back for their lives.
My main issue is most of the stories, Dante the Great and Parallel Monsters feel far too polished to be found footage. This gripe is mostly reserved for Dante the Great and the magic fight at the end of the segment. It feels like a normal film and nothing like found footage. I have the same issue with Parallel Monsters. It looks too nice.
The stories themselves feel lacking. I liked Dante the Great, other than my previous mentioned gripe, and feel it was the strongest entry. Emmy Argo delivers the best performance in the whole film here. I find her incredibly sympathetic and she plays of the megalomania of Justin Welborn’s Dante amazingly.
Final thoughts, I wish I had more to say, but I just found this entry in the V/H/S series to be incredibly underwhelming. The series decline is a real shame as the first entry really showed what could be done with found footage anthologies and the second film experimented with the ideas but were off the mark on delivery. Viral on the other hand felt like a lazy finish at best. 5/10