Combustible Celluloid
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With: Patrick Lawrie, Celia K. Milius, Steve Berens, Stephanie Silver, Gary Sugarman, Noelle Ann Mabry, Justin Welborn, Emmy Argo, Dan Caudill, Nathan Mobley, Michael Aaron Millgian, John Curran, Susan Williams, Randy McDowell, Marian Alvarez, Gustavo Salmeron, Nick Blanco, Chase Newton, Shane Bradey, David Castro, Alexandra Besore
Written by: Nacho Vigalondo, Marcel Sarmiento, Gregg Bishop, Justin Benson, Aaron Scott Moorhead, T.J. Cimfel, Ed Dougherty, David White
Directed by: Marcel Sarmiento, Gregg Bishop, Nacho Vigalondo, Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing strong violence and gore, sexual content, language and some drug use
Running Time: 82
Date: 11/21/2014

V/H/S: Viral (2014)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Video Shooting

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The third movie in the series, after V/H/S (2012) and V/H/S/2 (2013), V/H/S: Viral abandons the idea of the creepy house filled with old videocassettes. Even though the movie seems to have built-in, recurring technical errors -- fizzling out and showing buried, half-erased images -- it has little to do with old-fashioned formats. Instead, it concentrates more on the "viral" theme, and in doing so, the series spins off in an interesting new direction.

In a wraparound segment, a young man likes to shoot videos of his girlfriend, but when he gets obsessed with filming a police chase involving a mysterious ice cream truck, his girlfriend disappears. In the story of "Dante the Great," a loser magician inherits extraordinary powers when he discovers a cloak that might have belonged to Houdini. Later, a scientist invents a portal into an alternate universe that looks almost exactly like his own world but turns out to be a sinister, vicious place. (This segment was directed by Nacho Vigalondo, of Timecrimes.) Then a group of punk skateboarders go in search of the perfect spot to shoot a video, winding up in Tijuana in a place of demonic ritual. Finally, the young man catches up to the ice cream truck and finds something terrible inside.

Each of the three segments, plus a fourth wraparound sequence, is told from the point of view of a first-person camera. Characters film absolutely everything, constantly, in the hopes that it will earn them a measure of fame, re: a high number of hits. Each of the segments suggests that this is unhealthy behavior, favoring the act of seeing things for the way they are. The movie isn't exactly terrifying, but it's clever and playful and has a very good dark, bloody cautionary tale.

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