Young, creative, independent filmmakers like Ti West (The Sacrament), Joe Swanberg (Silver Bullets), and Adam Wingard (You’re Next) have contributed to Bloody Disgusting and Magnolia Pictures' co-productions V/H/S (2012) and its sequel V/H/S 2 (2013). Both horror anthologies were shaped around the concept of watching “found footage” snuff material on VHS tapes, and despite the ups and downs of their various episodes in the anthology format, their filmmakers delivered engaging and certainly memorable contributions to the subgenre. Less successful is the latest iteration, V/H/S: Viral, which all but abandons the loose conceptual logic holding the previous entries together in favor of an almost abstract, notably digital outcome. The result is an unwatchable mess.
While the framing device of the earlier films each involved someone stumbling onto a stack of VHS tapes and watching their disturbing content, the structure for V/H/S: Viral is less coherent. Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl) directs the connective tissue “Vicious Circles”, about a teenager obsessed with recording his life on his cameraphone and becoming the next internet sensation. Interspersed between patchy, intimate footage of his girlfriend, the main teen begins chasing after a rogue ice cream truck barreling down Los Angeles highways and followed by a squad of police cars. Sarmiento latches onto several teens trailing along with their shaky, handheld cameras, while signals from the truck seemingly cause bystanders to enter a trancelike state and bleed from the nose... Read the full article