V/H/S: Viral is the third, last and possibly best of the V/H/S franchise (though, admittedly, I have yet to see the second installment). I wouldn’t say you’re guaranteed to enjoy it, but there’s a half-decent chance, if you have the stomach for another weird horror anthology. I will readily say the special effects in V/H/S: Viral are pretty well-done, if not top-notch, and that this helps raise the movie’s overall quality.
On top of that, the writing for a few of the stories was solid. I particularly liked the story of “Dante the Great,” where Dante (Justin Welborn) discovers Houdini’s magic cloak. He discovers that it performs amazing, miraculous tricks, and it makes him a star. Unfortunately, it comes at a price: He must sacrifice lives in order for it to still work (it is a horror movie, after all). Not only does the story work on its own, but it’s possibly a tasty homage to the 1980s Friday the 13th TV show. In that show, antique shop owners would go around trying to wrest magical, cursed objects away from sad, tragic or evil characters, who’d use their powers to attain fame, popularity or wealth by sacrificing others. Homage or otherwise, everything about the “Dante the Great” segment works for me. Hell, it may be unfortunate that this wasn’t done as a full-blown movie instead.
What about the other segments? Although plenty seem to hate it, the wraparound segment (“Vicious Circles”) is reasonably well done and acted, and made more watchable by its special effects. It’s not an easy story to comprehend, but that could be part of its charm.
Meanwhile, “Parallel Monsters” is probably memorable for its weirdness than anything else, although Gustavo Salmeron does a competent job as Alfonso. It’s definitely over the top, but not particularly frightening. Also, for whatever reason, the effects aren’t as convincing in this segment, which may have been to intentionally add a comedic element.
The worst (and laziest) entry in “V/H/S: Viral” has got to be “Bonestorm,” which is just about some stereotypical dumb skateboarder kids encountering an evil cult in Tijuana, and end up battling skeletons and some weird, mostly unseen demon. I could be a harsher critic of this segment, but I would just say it’s on the lazy side. Frankly, a more innovative story could have happened in its place, or at least this story could have been a little more unique (like, for example, making the skateboarders more intelligent — a treatment rarely given to depictions of youths in horror).
In conclusion, V/H/S: Viral is a pretty good horror anthology, especially compared to some of the outright garbage you’ll find in many other anthologies. I would recommend it over the first V/H/S film, in fact, which seemed a little too hellbent on making every story crass, and thereby lacking diversity of content and feel. I suppose I’ll note that its segments were variously directed by Marcel Sarmiento, Gregg Bishop, Nacho Vigalondo, Justin Benson, Aaron Scott Moorhead and Todd Lincoln.