Tis the season to get scary Fa la la la, la la la la. That magical time of year is almost upon us. The Halloween season has yet to be embraced fully by us Brits, in the same way, our American friends have. Still, we’ve never let that stop us from getting in the spooky spirit.
The third and final entry in the VHS franchise appropriately takes the series into the realm of viral videos. Proceedings get started with the frame story that forms the backbone of the structure (more on that later), after that gets going we launch into Dante The Great. A frustrated magician strikes a deal with a demon for real powers to wow the internet. Naturally, nothing comes without cost, and he must feed his new cape live people to sustain his magic.
Things take a sci-fi turn for Parallel Monsters, easily the most inventive concept of the four stories, but it takes a turn that does push the credibility of the found-footage format. Admittedly, the ending is barmy and might leave you more confused than horrified. That said, the execution is laced with tension from start to finish. Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s Bonestorm finds a band of skateboarders take on the undead, taking heir cues from many a Youtube video; the end results make great use of A GoPro camera.
The story that wraps the stories together (Vicious Circle) isn’t the strongest of the trilogy’s framing devices. The first movie had a group of criminals sifts through the taps mid break-in, the second continued that tread with the search for a missing student and the rediscovery of the video nasties. Covering the same ground as last year’s Nightcrawler, the pursuit to create a viral video leads the characters to very dark places. The message might be heavy-handed, but it does offer an extreme parable on fame seeking youngsters.
I have been a fan of the anthology format, from The Twilight Zone to The Outer Limits, the anthology genre went away for a while but came back with a vengeance. The US has thrown out subversions like True Detective, Fargo, and American Horror Story, each season is self-contained which has seen TV shows boast movie star casts. For pure anthology, homegrown hits like Black Mirror and Inside Number 9 offer dark-hearted one-offs laced with macabre humour. Something that is sadly absent in VHS Viral.
Not as shocking as The ABC’s of Death, VHS Viral isn’t as scary as the original, or as inventive as part two, but horror fans will get a brutal fix of nasty in an economical 80 minutes.
VHS Viral is out now on DVD and HD Digital.