Tuesday, September 30, 2014

V/H/S: Viral Review A Horror Comedy Anthology

V/H/S: Viral
October 23, 2014
November 21, 2014

Worrying that your short term memory might be gone during the third act, when you can't remember the first act isn't a good sign. Neither my cameraman and I could remember the  "Dante the Great" segment of V/H/S Viral and it has me perturbed and questioning how memorable the film was and my memory? We weren't on any substances before the show. For it's Beyond Fest screening, the audience was invited to make a snuff film with director Nacho Vigalondo. It was a joke; poor Nacho and myself snorted snuff with other audience members in order to win posters and t-shirts. Silly and strange, it was how the whole movie felt. V/H/S: Viral has become a comic anthology in it's third film.

V/H/S: Viral might have premiered at Fantastic Fest in Texas, but a few days later LA got its view at the Egyptian Sunday night, part of the second year of Beyond Fest's out there programming. Most of the directors were in attendance except Justin Benson and Todd Lincoln. Directors in attendance came up after the film to answer some questions and back-pedal on why the film was so different.

The film's become a horror comic anthology this year. Either by the film directors chosen or that Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett weren't part of the film this time; see The Guest. The film is the weakest in the series sticking to the found footage mentality. Greg Bishop went on a short explanation of how the film cheats. When it does cheat, it cheats the audience, many times accompanying music and camera footage that shouldn't exist is used all too often.
L-R Nacho Vigalondo, "Dant the Great", Greg Bishop, Marcel Sarmiento,

If you take the film as a comedy it works. Fans of the series, like myself, were not entirely into that. There's always been something to chuckle at for a second or from a line from a victim in the previous films. This time it's just too comedic to be seen as a real horror movie.

"Vicious Circles", which I'm sad to write was directed by Marcel Sarmiento of Deadgirl infamy fails as a uniting wrap-around story. It has nothing to do this time with finding found footage, instead it's about a young man trying to make his own successful viral videos in a loving relationship with his girlfriend that gets taken by an ice cream truck. The ice cram truck drives around in circles in LA causing mayhem; and looks like bad CGI. Going way out there, a viral virus that has come from phones is causing people to act strange and bleed from the ears along side this and made his girlfriend get into the ice cream truck. It's a commentary on the concept of people going viral and taking too many videos today. 

Something I won't go further into because it's not a totally thought out idea and comes off as comical. In the Q & A, it was mentioned by Gregg Bishop that "Vicious Circles" was along the lines of replacing the people in 80's horror movies who are about to have sex at make out point with anyone taking video on their cell phone. It's an odd choice among other ideas like comical interludes that have nothing to do with the young man trying to save his girlfriend. He merely passes by a family/gang party gone awry and a perverted cab scene. The ending makes the least sense of anything of the film.

"Dante the Great" by Gregg Bishop is a magician's battle we've all been waiting to see. Shown like a" where are they know show" , we get into the story of a magician not worth his top hat until he acquires the "Cape of Houdini", so evil Houdini got rid of it. With it, he pushes his way to stardom as the world's greatest magician. It comes at a great cost, the cape gets hungry. One of his charming assistants see through his act and after a confrontation with the police it's up to her to have an all out magic battle with Dante the Great. The special effects are all top notch, it's so over the top. The problem is that it's not something you find as an underground video. A world renown magician going on a rampage? That's not really viral.

My favorite, of course, comes from Nacho Vigalondo. His "Parallel Monsters" makes for great  comedy sci-fi. A scientist has a doorway to somewhere strange in his basement. Is it to the future, another world, another dimension? Another dimension where he meets his double. They look similar enough and our both filled with great joy over their accomplishments. They decide to take a 15-minute jaunt into each others world. A picture on the wall at first is the only subtle change that the scientist from our world sees. Then it gets strangely sexual and what's that burning  and creaming on the TV?

Nacho, who was at odds not to fall over from taking so much snuff and tearing up tried to expalined how one universe had no sex in it to hyper-sexual tendencies of the other. They he joked about how not having sex is common for many, adding, "This is too confessional."

When I asked him how tired he was from just doing Fantastic Fest, Beyond Fest and being at The Cinefamily in the next few days he said, 'My mother's worried about me."

He revealed to me he's working on a second draft of a Kaju film with a twist. Can't wait to see how Nacho tackles giant battle monsters.

Without ruining too much you'll be seeing some monstrous action with love making in "Parallel Monsters", think Troma. Nacho's sci-fi horror short was my favorite for he's always likable leading man and the bizarre ideas he has that work.

Ending the film was a skater's horror movie, "Bonestorm" that didn't have directors Justin Benson and Todd Lincoln attending the screening. We were told how the cast their actors though. Marcel Sarmiento said, "Guys in their 30's going around to skate parks and asking, 'Hey, you wannabe in a movie."  The film centers on two skater friends heading to Tijuana to finish their skating video with their awful director and "put-in-a-$20-for-gas" guy. They desecrate a sacred spot that they can shred in and soon have to battle a cult that becomes very skinless. They have to fight a skeleton army with nothing but their skateboards and illegal fireworks. You can't deny it's fun nature. Pounding anyone's head in with a camera attached to the skateboard for visuals only hurts the person get impaled by said skateboard. The skaters strangely had the realistic cussing that you found in Deadgirl that you didn't find in the comically bad Vicious Circles segment.

The advertisements may need to make it clear that V/H/S: Viral is no longer about the weird tapes you might find or weird videos you'll find in the corners of the web. I would argue it should be part of a different series, a comedy series and lose the V/H/S name as it's the weakest connection to the original idea. Each director, except Marcel, showed off great work, work that is way too funny to be scary.

The Q & A had much of Gregg Bishop defending the films new style with general questions directed to directors. "How much freedom were you allowed?, " Nacho replied, "You mean in life." Greg and Marcel answered that you could just pay yourself a high price or put what the producers gave you into the film. Greg kept bring up it was about enough money to shoot, "Three friends talking in a room for a one day shoot."

When asked about horror influences Nacho answered Alien and The Birds, an on The Birds  said, "As a child it has a specific meaning, but as an adult it takes on a different meaning." Going into how films change after re-watching them over time.

Then, maybe forgetting those films in the process, he did a bunch of snuff with audience members. He did it so much he had to lean against the wall at some points. When you think of snuff, you think of Nacho after that night.Teary-eyed many of the "winners" got posters and t-shirts as the Q & A ended.

Beyond Fest continues until Oct 4.