15 – 77mins – 2014
“Make sure you’re in focus!”
This stunted second sequel to the Bloody Disgusting-championed horror anthology from “The Collective” of emerging genre directors features another three found footage short films interlaced with a fourth wrap-around story which attempts to tie them all together. According to Wikipedia, a fifth was apparently commissioned but ultimately didn’t make the cut.
Sadly, this try-hard threequel diverts from the more cleanly-structured set-up of its predecessors in favour of a narratively-uncoordinated mash-up of found footage video nasties seemingly condemning the phone-obsessed mentality of the very audience the series is striving to appeal to.
With the police chasing down an errant ice cream truck, generation YouTube-r Kevin (Patrick Lawrie) is desperate to film the scandal for his five minutes of online fame, but just as the action is heating up, we are thrown – via some truly intrusive and painfully overused “retro” tracking effects – into Gregg Bishop’s completely unrelated story about “Dante the Great”, a modern stage magician (Justin Welborn) who uses Houdini’s infamous cloak for his nefarious gain.
A headache-inducing deluge of shaky-cam sources (all of which post-date the beloved eponymous medium and some of which seem to defy the laws of the found footage genre) are compiled into this schizophrenically-edited treasury of tasteless vulgarity. A random cut away during Marcel Sarmiento’s framing narrative “Vicious Circles” sees a Mexican house party descend into a forking bloodbath – but yet-more tracking issues and oh-so-convenient white noise mean we miss all but the aftermath!
Nacho Vigalondo’s mirror universe-exploring “Parallel Monsters” begins to subtlety uncover divergent religious beliefs with snuff films and bizarre sexual ceremonies panicking intruding inventor Alfonso (Gustavo Salmeron). Despite initially appearing to be the most sedate story, it disappointingly jumps the shark into outlandish alien territory just to flash some muppet-like demonic genitalia! Pity.
Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead’s “Bonestorm” segment sees skateboarding teens come under siege from a satanic cult in Tijuana. It is possibly the most effective strand due to the creepiness of seemingly insignificant robed figures cropping up in the background before the extremity of the battle explodes into life, however it takes forever to set up the main event with expendable Jackass japery, and it finishes before the promised ‘big bad’ is even shown.
So disorientating and wildly incohesive is V/H/S Viral’s slapdash patchwork that it really should come with an epilepsy warning! If the bloodthirsty audience aren’t already put off by this or the anti-climactic conclusions to the promising story concepts, then the lazy climactic jab at big brother culture will surely have people reaching for the eject button, condemning this once innovative horror series to the same demise as its outdated namesake.