VHS Viral

This one is polarizing. And even though it’s just being released on VOD today, it’s already had enough festival screenings to start a larger debate among the horror crowd. Well, I’m going to throw my hat into the debate right now. I saw it at Beyondfest a few weeks ago and I’m here to say that while I agree with some of the detractors that VHS Viral isn’t scary, not one bit, I actually don’t think it’s meant to be. It’s not fear they’re going for here. I think it’s aiming for more of an over-the-top insanity that people on YouTube are striving for every single day in order to make their videos go “viral.” Let me explain. Think back to VHS2. What was the segment that EVERYONE (including myself) talked relentlessly about? Gareth Evans brilliant “Safe Haven”, featuring a cult in Indonesia that summoned the devil and ushered in the end of days. It was bonkers, insane, and left a indelible mark. So what are the filmmakers of this third film in the series to do? They have to go bonkers as well. Every segment in this series obviously has the mindset of trying to match that over-the-top insanity, over aiming for pure horror. The wraparound story (which even though has a few great moments, personally I thought was the weakest segment) even hints at the lengths people will go to in order to make their videos go “viral”. I feel like the filmmakers were mentally going for the exact same thing. And to me, all three of the main segments worked to this regard. Short and sweet (mainly because of a missing segment that has been the subject of countless rumors), all three main segments in this film have an insanity that is undeniably entertaining. Part one about Houdini’s haunted magic cape that holds sway over its owner. It has some amazing effects and is playful and brisk. Part two, my personal favorite, is absolutely insane and makes me love Nacho Vigalondo even more (Timecrimes is still one of the best time travel movies ever). His take on an alternate universe is truly balls-out crazy. And part three, which is essentially skater punks vs. day of the dead zombies in Tijuana has a franticness that is absolutely a blast. Some really great POV shots here. Point blank, all three segments are just fun as shit. Yes, it’s not scary, so don’t go looking for scares. But yes, it is a completely entertaining and swift 90 minutes. Give it a roll and then talk to me afterward about Nacho’s twisted segment. I loved it so much.


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