Film: V/H/S 3: Viral
One thing the V/H/S franchise has done better than its fellow brethren of hand-held horror is to not be embarrassed by its terrible special effects. Whereas the recent stylistics of As Above, So Below and Houses that October Built decided to shake their cameras until the baddies were unrecognizable, spurning critics and fans alike to chant the refrain that something may have happened but nobody can be sure what it was, V/H/S 3: Viral unabashedly shows you other-dimensional dicks, skaters battling the Day of the Dead, and a magician who pulls the hat out of the rabbit.
So, why hasn’t V/H/S managed to edit and pull itself together? The trilogy has always revolved its tales of analog horror around a slow-burning central story. In the case of Viral, it’s an ice-cream truck that the LAPD are chasing. Everyone with a YouTube account is also seeking out the chaos in hopes of going… viral… but they’re being killed one by one. Why? Who knows? There always has to be a frustratingly unfinished tale to make more sequels, and the poorly designed old-tape footage of the chase that is spliced in-between episodes constantly kills any sense of progress that was catching fire.
Thus, V/H/S 3: Viral is worth 50% of your time. The first tale of Dante the Great, where a lowly unemployed schmuck (Justin Welborn) finds the garb of Houdini is the kind of clever, terrifying fun that could keep Constantine from being cancelled. But the most shocking segment that’ll stay with you for months is the tale of the Gorgeous Vortex. Here, a scientist creates a portal to a mirror-dimension and meets himself. When the two copies decide to switch places, one sees a wedding photo from our Earthly plain and asks, “What peoples are these?”
Meanwhile, in the other dimension, a blimp is flying overhead with an upside-down neon cross and the faces of its inhabitants turn demon-like when they’re aroused. It’s uncommonly tense yet laugh at loud disgusting when we get to see the size of the other side’s genitalia, and it upstages everything else in the film.
If V/H/S can ever figure itself out, then we’ll be the first standing in line. Until then, fast forward or skip to the tale of the Gorgeous Vortex. If you can take it, then watch Dante. Aside from that, it’s forgettable fluff of the dime-store caliber.