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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » V/H/S: Viral (Blu-ray)
V/H/S: Viral (Blu-ray)
Magnolia Home Entertainment // R // February 17, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by William Harrison | posted February 11, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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THE FILM:

Click an image to view Blu-ray screenshot with 1080p resolution.

I guess 2013's V/H/S 2 represents the peak on this cinematic bell curve, as the original and this second sequel, V/H/S: Viral, are about on par with one another. This outing again bundles several short films that tangentially fit amid a larger, wrap-around story. I guess this film is making some point about our society's overreliance on social media and viral video, but this is not particularly clear. V/H/S: Viral retains the flicker and static of SD video despite using digitally sourced material, and it is often unclear exactly where the footage comes from. This anthology is not exactly boring, but it lacks the horror elements of the previous entries, focusing instead on genre-riffing humor. Curiously, the most intriguing segment was cut from the film proper and appears as a bonus feature on the Blu-ray.

The bookend story isn't about finding creepy snuff films. Instead, Director Marcel Sarmiento's (Deadgirl) Vicious Circles follows a wannabe YouTube star (Patrick Lawrie) as he chases a rampaging ice cream truck and his missing girlfriend (Emila Zoryan) through Los Angeles. This segment is problematic because, unlike in the previous two films, this wraparound is supposed to be a fluid story unto itself and is meant to set the whole "viral" stage. Too bad it makes no sense and the pacing is absolutely obliterated by all the cut-aways.

My favorite segment is the most jokey: Gregg Bishop's (Dance of the Dead) Dante the Great is framed as a crime documentary about a magician (Justin Welborn) who finds a demonic cloak and goes crazy. Scenes of murder and mayhem are interspersed with high-gloss TV interviews from Dante, an untalented dick who uses the strange cloak to throw fire, levitate and make a fortune shocking audiences. After he kills a bunch of young women, his assistant (Emmy Argo) fights back. This segment is tonally inconsistent with both the series and the rest of this film, but it's the most entertaining and original part of V/H/S: Viral.

Nacho Vigalondo made waves with Timecrimes, but his Parallel Monsters is a mixed bag. Inventor Alfonso (Gustavo Salmeron) opens a portal to another dimension and finds himself in a world very different from his own. There are literally two Alfonsos, and each decides to try out the other's life for a while. The parallel-dimension Alfonso's life is messed up. His not-wife has strange men over for some crazy satanic rituals and bloody violence. This segment is an under-developed mish-mash of ideas. Is it a creepy thriller about summoning demons or an alien melodrama? There is some welcome humor, but nothing about this ties into the overall theme.

The final segment, Aaron Moorhead's (Resolution) Bonestorm actually ties into the viral theme, but it overstays its welcome. A group of obnoxious skater punks takes to a Tijuana reservoir but discovers a Mexican death cult has other plans for their bodies. Most of the footage is shot on handheld or helmet cameras, and the segment turns into a video game as the guys start fending off enemies House of the Dead style. This is pretty silly stuff, and it runs a good ten minutes too long.

Cut from the main feature is Todd Lincoln's (The Apparition) Gorgeous Vortex, the most stylish and creepy of all the material. The 16-minute, dialogue-free short plays after the film concludes on the Blu-ray. I can see why this was cut from V/H/S: Viral. It's way too avant-garde to fit amid this other nonsense. I'm not sure I understood what was going on - the synopsis claims a secretive organization is tracking a serial killer - but a gorgeous woman (Jayden Robison) has startling visions of hooded figures and imagines herself as the victim in gruesome murders. There's also birthday cake and a killer bird. If only the real movie was this crazy.

THE BLU-RAY:

PICTURE:

The 1.78:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image is strong in spite of all the added interference, splicing and effects. I imagine this accurately replicates the theatrical experience. Footage that is meant to look bright and clear does. Cell phone video looks grainy and washed out. It's hard to really judge this material, but detail is good, black levels are strong and there are no real flaws to report.

SOUND:

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix shares the same pops, interference and static as the video, which is to be expected. There are some annoyingly loud stingers, but the blame for that lies behind the camera. Effects are fairly immersive - sirens pan the sound field and kicks to the undead skull rattle the LFE - and sound accurate. Dialogue sounds as intended, and there are no unintended audio problems. English and Spanish subs are included.

EXTRAS:

You get an entertaining group Audio Commentary, recorded at Fantastic Fest, from Sarmiento, Moorhead, Justin Benson, Vigalondo and Bishop, along with actor Shane Bradley. There's the aforementioned Gorgeous Vortex (16:33/HD), the best extra by far, as well as Bonestorm (5:36/HD) and Dante the Great (8:32/HD) behind the scenes featurettes and Image Galleries. Finally, you get some Interviews (15:55/HD) and AXS TV: A Look at V/H/S: Viral (2:22/HD).

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Those looking for scares aren't going to find them in the messy V/H/S: Viral, the third entry in this unexpected franchise. These segments are tonally dissimilar from those in the previous films, and the wraparound story is weak. But, the genre-busting humor is nice, and those curious to see Todd Lincoln's "lost" segment may want to Rent It.


Additional screenshots:

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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