And so comes the third installment of the “VHS” (or “V/H/S”, whatever) horror franchise, where amateur-ish filmmakers create borderline incomprehensible works of 12th grade art. The first film was interesting, but still kind of bad. The second one was slightly more interesting, but also still kinda bad. And this third one, which is still called VHS despite the fact the entire thing appears to be about cell phone videos, is not too interesting and *really* bad. You can continue on if you want, but I’ll be very spoilery, as I expect no one else really wants to watch this.
As usual, it’s divided into segments:
Vicious Circles: This is the wraparound segment that appears at the beginning, the end, and in between the other segments. It’s almost hard for me to describe just how *INTENSELY* bad Vicious Circles is. But let me take a crack at it… It’s a brutally illegible story about an ice cream truck full of TVs that can like suck you into its ghost world through a “viral” phone app (HOW MODERN [faaaaaaaaaaaaaart]) and anywhere it drives around makes everyone close to it break out in violence or get nose bleeds or like get hit by it or something. It’s shot in a way that felt like they attached a GoPro camera to a fishing pole and sprinted down the street in moon shoes, and edited like they kidnapped an guy and put him in a Saw-like murder situation where he had to edit the segment with both his hands nailed to the computer while a vat of acid threatens to drop on his head if he doesn’t finish cutting it in under 5 minutes. It was genuinely *hard* for my eyes to send the correct messages to my brain in order to piece together the unforgivable waste of time that this segment was. I hope everyone involved never touches a camera ever again. And to make it worse, every other segment had this as its lead in, so I had to take a minute to focus on the fact that this awful train wreck was done giving me brain diarrhea before I could acknowledge the next segment had officially started. I give this my lowest score of all time. -5 out of 10.
Dante the Great: This one actually had an interesting (albeit unoriginal) concept, about a magician who finds a magic cape and it lets him do real magic, but he has to feed people to the cape in order to maintain its power. Kind of like The Prestige meets Little Shop of Horrors. HOWEVER, the execution left a lot to be desired. Like the first segment, it was also cut like it was edited during an earthquake, and half of it is found footage and the other half is filmed like a TV news segment, for some reason. The FBI scene was probably the best part, but the rest of it had tacky special effects, and the acting was terrible. But I think it meant well. Regular 5 out of 10.
Parallel Monsters: This was the only good segment in the entire movie. A guy builds a device in his basement that opens a door to a parallel universe, and when he turns it on, another version of himself is on the other side that *also* built the same device. Everything seems normal at first, and they decide to explore the other’s universe for 15 minutes to see what it’s like. In the only segment that used a tripod, and didn’t feel like the camera was being violently shaken by a psychopath, it turned out that the other universe wasn’t as pleasant as it seemed. Through like, actual suspense, it’s revealed that universe 2 is actually an antichrist nightmare where everyone has giant carnivorous genitals (!) and all is not well. It was decent. I figured there would be a weird twist, but I honestly didn’t predict it would be *that* weird, so kudos. Might have possibly made a nice short on its own merits outside of this crapshow. 8 out of 10.
Bonestorm: This was about some SUPER RUDE skateboarders who like smoke weed and swear a lot, and have RADICAL attitudes, and are like sooooooooooo badass, man! They get in fights and like skateboard with helmet cameras and swear a lot and smoke weed. They love weed so much they decide to go to Tijuana, man! Then they like skateboard on some ancient Mexican devil crest, and some zombies show up and they like fight them with their skateboards and with firecrackers, and like they keep saying cool swear words and act rude the whole time, because they got like super righteous ‘tudes, son! In the middle of the zombie fight, one of the skateboarders turns on a sick jam on his iPhone, because he wants his baller music playing while he ‘board kills a bunch of zombz, bro. At one point, he puts a firecracker in a skeleton, and right before the skeleton blows up, it gives him the middle finger! EVEN THESE SKELETONS ARE BAD 2 THE BONE, AND HAVE RUDE ‘TUDES!! SICK, BRO! It was like so cool and so well written that they showed these HELLA KEWL BRAHS skateboarding around being rude dewdz for a solid 10 minutes before they even encountered the zombies. THAT’S CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, BRO. How else are we going to know Trevor likes to say the F word?!?! One guy had like a joint in his mouth, and then he had two more joints in his hat. HE WAS SO INTO JOINTS. And it was even MORE awesome that it didn’t even need an ending. You don’t create art like this without an open ending. DO YOU THINK THEY GOT HIGH AGAIN? DO YOU THINK CHAD WILL EVER PICK UP A BOARD AGAIN? These are questions that you will ask yourself for days, no, WEEKS after you watch it. GROUNDBREAKING. 2 out of 10
Blech, what a train wreck. The first two VHS’s had enough going for them to maintain curiosity, but this third installment pretty much guaranteed that I’ll never watch another one of these anthologies short of Martin Scorsese filming a segment. I was wondering how anyone could actually like this, as it inexplicably has a few positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. I found out that to get something out of VHS: Viral you have to pretty much reduce the entire concept to a simplified, idiotically generalized statement about how cell phones and getting hits on YouTube is, like, CONSUMING OUR HUMANITY, GUYS!
OR MAYBE, JUST MAAAAAAAAAYBE, this is PERHAPS just a terrible collection of awful horror shorts made by half-assed filmmakers who don’t have a full grasp of cohesive storytelling yet, let alone a universal thought that united all of their films into a singular reflection on how we all pay a price for trying to make viral videos. If VHS: Viral is a sampling of what the next generation of young horror filmmakers are going to be like, I weep for the future. Don’t bother watching this movie, you guys. It really PHONES it in… I’M NO BETTER THAN THEY ARE!
2.5 out of 10