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Advance Review – VHS Viral

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VHS: Viral centers around a Los Angeles area police chase that is dominating the news stations. A random sampling of amateur camera people try to capture the ordeal via various portable media devices in an attempt to enjoy their fifteen minutes of fame. But those recording the chase soon learn that they are in store for much more than they bargained for. Every one of them is affected by an unexpected side effect of their quest for fame that may just cost them their lives.

I was very pleased with VHS Viral for the most part. I have a couple of qualms with it but nothing so egregious as to derail my enjoyment of the film as a whole. All three of the primary segments are good. This outing saw the producers making wise choices for the directors of all three of the primary vignettes. A fourth short was reportedly filmed for inclusion in the release but was dropped at some point.  The wraparound segment doesn’t live up to the quality of the three core segments but I will get to that in a moment.

The ‘Dante the Great’ segment is about a magician who possesses a cape with unspeakably powerful capabilities. It is helmed by Gregg Bishop, who previously directed the cult favorite Dance of the Dead. This segment is none too profound but a very enjoyable outing, nonetheless. It features a strong performance from Justin Wellborn (The Signal) as the titular character. The supporting performances are well played also. Bishop proves to be a master of ambiance here. His entire segment is suspenseful and elicits a sense of dread from the viewer. There are some good scares along the way. The effects in his vignette are outstanding. I was pleasantly surprised at how realistic they are.

The Nacho Vigalondo helmed sequence ‘Parallel Monsters’ follows a man who has uncovered the existence of parallel universes. It is also excellent. It is a much more intellectual vignette than ‘Dante the Great’ but lacks some of the pizzazz we see in the previous segment. Vigalondo once again explores the time space continuum. And he does so with brilliant results. He mixes in a measure of paganism as his segment progresses and the outcome is pretty mind blowing. Initially, it reminded me a lot of  Vigalondo’s Timecrimes but the similarities are short lived. I had no idea that the segment was going to go where it did but I was certainly not disappointed. It was great to see Vigalondo deliver another great piece of work after Timecrimes. I was a bit disappointed by his latest feature, Open Windows, so to see him stick the landing so effectively with this one was a welcome surprise.

The final segment, ‘Bonestorm’, which is directed by Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson (Resolution) is the weakest of the three cores vignettes. It’s not bad by any means. But it is not as intelligent as ‘Parallel Monsters’ and doesn’t have the pizazz of ‘Dante the Great’. It centers around a group of skaters and their cameraman, who is shooting a skate video for them. When the group takes to Tijuana to hit up a skate spot there, they run into trouble with a murderous cult. The effects are good and the vignette does deliver a level of suspense. But it does not live up to the segments that precede it. The characters are obnoxious and some of the dialogue is really grating. I enjoyed parts of this sequence but did not find it to be of the same caliber as the other two.

As for the wraparound segment, which is directed by Marcel Sarmiento is just not very good. It is choppy, convoluted, and offers very little insight into the whys or hows of the segment. The viewer knows almost nothing of what is going on until the very final scene and even then, the explanation we are given is pretty thin and leaves many unanswered questions. It’s no so bad as to ruin the film or leave a bad taste in the viewer’s mouth. It’s just not very well put together which is unfortunate.

As a whole, the film is great and quite entertaining. I would absolutely recommend checking it out when you have the chance. There’s a lot to like about it and it is sure to please existing fans of the franchise and will quite likely appeal to newcomers as well.

VHS Viral will be available via iTunes and various VOD content providers tomorrow, October 23rd and in select theaters November 21st.

WICKED RATING: 7/10  [usr 7]
Title: VHS Viral
Director(s): Gregg Bishop, Nacho Vigalondo, Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, and Marcel Sarmiento
Writer(s): Gregg Bishop, Nacho Vigalondo, Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, and Marcel Sarmiento
Stars: Emmy Argo, Amanda Baker, Rim Basma, Nick Blanco
Release:  October 23rd (VOD) In select theaters November 21st.
Studio/ Production Co:  Magnet
Budget: Unknown
Language: English, Spanish
Length: 97 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Found Footage, Anthology

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Written by Tyler Doupé
Tyler Doupe' is the managing editor at Wicked Horror. He has previously penned for Fangoria Mag, Rue Morgue Mag, FEARnet, Fandango, ConTV, Ranker, Shock Till You Drop, ChillerTV, ComingSoon, and more. He lives with his husband, his dog, and cat hat(s).
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