Tuesday, October 21, 2014
I Saw V/H/S: VIRAL So You Don't Have To
I really want to believe that anthology horror on the big screen can be revived, but let's be clear on one thing: the V/H/S series is not the answer. Seriously, all this franchise has done is cheapen the genre. It's like the filmmakers gather every single horror film cliche, and stuff it into this collection of uninteresting, empty short films that serve no purpose but to gross you out. The stories are unimportant (or, nonexistent), the production value is at negative 9, and you always come away from it wondering why you put yourself through such torture. Or maybe that's just me.
V/H/S: VIRAL is no different. It's actually so indistinguishable that after watching the second installment of the series, V/H/S/2, right beforehand, I honestly couldn't even tell one from the other. What frustrates me the most is that VIRAL has an actually good idea that draws on the millenial obsession with the online celebrity -- the idea that young people today are fascinated by anything popular that's online (if you need proof of this, check the latest videos on YouTube). So setting this as a backdrop to a horror premise should work, or at least keep you engaged for the full hour and a half. But it doesn't. In fact, my eyes probably started rolling to the back of my head after the first 20 minutes. It's that awful.
So here's the connecting story (the word "story" being used loosely here): a young man and his girlfriend are messing around with a video camera when the guy goes outside and witnesses what looks like the end of days. He sees a cop get run over by a truck, which sets off a series of strange, unfortunate and gory events from there. Unable to reach his girlfriend, who for some reason is in a haze across the street, he gets on his bike and tries quickly to pedal to refuge in between dodging corpses lying in the middle of the street and zombies out to get him. The end.
Just kidding, but no that's really the gist of that main storyline, which is kind of ridiculous since the film returns to this scene of chaos every twenty minutes or so with no satisfying conclusion. Meanwhile, we're treated to several other short films -- including a man trapped in a hellish bizarro world and a zombie outbreak at a family barbecue -- that fail to cohesively connect to the theme of viral obsession. So, what's the point?
Well, to scare the wits out of you, obviously. But does it do that? Not...really. I was mostly waiting for it to end. Maybe because I've seen so many other (better) horror films that the whole watching blood gush from a severed stomach thing doesn't really do much for me anymore. I need a foundation story, a reason to understand and possibly root for any of these characters. Instead, I got this super lame collection of blah. Ugh.
Rating: F+ (* out of *****)
V/H/S: VIRAL will be available on iTunes/On Demand October 23rd and in theaters November 21st.