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rochefort [Film Festival 10.01.14] horror



When I reviewed the first entry in the V/H/S series, I didn't have a whole lot of nice things to say. Too long and too dumb, it felt like what you'd get if you gave cameras and a shoddy script to a bunch of smash-happy frat boys. V/H/S 2 (review) was a marked improvement, and featured segments from Gareth Evans and Timo Tjahjanto, Jason Eisener, and Gregg Hale and Eduardo Sanchez that suggested this anthology might actually be headed somewhere. V/H/S Viral, comprised of three shorts and a wraparound (a fourth short by Todd Lincoln has been excised from early screenings, and I'm not sure if or when it'll end up in a later version), is the third and latest in the series, and really thwarts the law of diminishing returns.

"Dante the Great" by director Gregg Bishop (the really solid Dance of the Dead (review)) kicks things off with the story of a fellow named Dante (Justin Wellborn). Dante owes his distinguished career as a successful magician to a black cape that gives him extraordinary powers in exchange for fresh souls. Wellborn is a woefully under-appreciated actor who's turned in really good work in The Signal (review), Dance of the Dead, and multiple episodes of "Justified," and as the Faustian Dante he again shows us why it's time this guy had more leading roles. Director Bishop cheats the "found footage" gimmick quite a bit in his segment, integrating a dedicated "in-story" camera only about half the time. The rest of the footage comes from "Entertainment Tonight"-style faked news footage, CCTV cameras, and traditional "invisible" camerawork, but the final effect is worth it. The pace is super-fast, and the piece culminates in a seriously fun wizard battle between Dante and his understudy. It's so good, in fact, that it had me worried that the rest of the movie would be downhill from here.


Thankfully, next came "Parallel Monsters" from Timecrimes (review) director Nacho Vigalondo. An inventor builds a machine that creates a door between universes, and when he turns it on finds a mirrored version of his basement just on the other side, as well as a parallel-universe version of himself. Inventor 1 and Inventor 2 decide it would be a hoot to switch places for a little bit and cross over, but it soon becomes evident that the two worlds are similar only on the surface, and "our" inventor gets in over his head almost immediately. If you've seen Timecrimes, then you already know how well Vigalondo can milk a simple sci-fi premise (and if you haven't seen it, seriously, go watch it immediately), and "Monsters" is Nacho doing what Nacho does best. By far the goriest segment, and easily one of the best of the series thus far.

Segment three, "Bonestorm," by Spring directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, begins as a "Thrasher"-style video featuring two skater kids and their annoying videographer, the opening moments full of wipeouts and face-plants. The cameraman convinces them to travel with him to Mexico to find the best skate spots, and there they encounter a death cult on the verge of unleashing an evil force on the world. The story's fun enough, but the skater kids themselves are the stars of this one, and they're funny as hell. The one real weak link in the collection, as in the two previous films, is the "wraparound," "Vicious Circles," about a mysterious van barrelling through the city that causes everyone it passes to go into a violent trance. To director Marcel Sarmiento's credit, it's a great deal better than those of the first two films and has a couple of exciting moments, but they still can't crack the formula yet. I have no idea if subsequent releases will feature Todd Lincoln's segment, so it's too early to tell how it will rank in the series, but for the moment V/H/S Viral is the best-paced (and shortest) of the lot and the most consistently entertaining.

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Hussman (3 years ago) Reply

I've enjoyed all three VHS movies and am looking forward to this one as well.

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uncleB (3 years ago) Reply

Just saw this. Excellent. Some crazy ass shit as usual.


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