I think “V/H/S/ Viral” might prove to be a little too cynical for horror fans that love their anthology horror movies chaotic and somewhat over the top. “VHS 2” was a hard act to follow, and “V/H/S/ Viral” thankfully doesn’t try to top the previous films, so much as accompany it with a magnificent social commentary that tops off a pretty excellent trilogy, all things considered. If “V/H/S/ Viral” is the last in the Collective’s indie anthology horror film then it’s a marvel to end on, as “V/H/S/ Viral” is a sick and demented film about society’s unquenchable thirst for instant fame in a world where everything can be accessed with a button and a massive online world. “V/H/S/ Viral” is cryptic and often very confusing, but all roads converge in to the theme of fame.
Every story features some theme about characters seeking fame and paying the price for their hubris, while the wrap around segments this time involve a fame hungry young man who uses his camera in an almost addictive manner in hopes it will grant him some form of success. Despite having a beautiful supportive girlfriend, he only wants fame, and events spiral out of control when a high way chase results in his girlfriend being kidnapped, while random people begin committing suicide after viewing mysterious viral videos on their cell phones. The team of Gregg Bishop, Nacho Vigalondo, and Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead accomplish some truly eerie and gory short horror stories, all of which revolve around the central commentary. More documentary than video footage, “Dante the Great” sets down on aspiring magician Dante, who accidentally comes across a magic cloak that can warp objects and commit amazing feats.
As its new owner becomes a worldwide celebrity, he discovers that the cloak’s powers are conscious and it will not grant him anymore feats unless Dante offers up sacrifices. Splicing in video footage, and interviews, the segment is gory and spooky with some rather fantastic special effects, all with a villain that’s enigmatic and terrifying. The final shot really sets the stage for the film. “Parallel Monsters” is a Spanish language segment involving a scientist named Alfonso who creates a doorway to a parallel world where he meets his mirror image double. The two at first garner a casual relationship and agree to switch worlds for fifteen minutes. As the pair explores their own realities, Alfonso discovers a terrifying secret behind his own, and tries to make it back home before his own world is tainted. Director Nacho Vigolando’s own installment is unusual, but has a great sense of humor with some creepy special effects.
I also love the final scene which mirrors the alternate reality in a more symbolic form. “Bonestorm” is the least entertaining of the trio as it feels like a more truncated version of “Safehaven” from VHS 2. A group of skateboarders are seeking fame by composing their own skate board video and head to Mexico to film their tricks. Little do they know their hidden skate park is actually a Satanic temple, and when one of the boarders falls spilling his own blood, carnage immediately ensues. Despite some excellent special effects, and a pretty slick final scene, “Bonestorm” just felt too much like “Safehaven” and matched with the obnoxious protagonists, it’s a pretty forgettable final segment. All in all, “VHS Viral” is a demented and creepy third leg in the acclaimed anthology series. While it does break the rules of its gimmick as a found footage film, it compensates with a very volatile and important reflection on the world’s hunger for fame at the cost of our own humanity.