Will we ever tire of finding footage? If Brad Miska, producer of the V/H/S series of films has anything to say about it, we won't. For all of the groaning that typically accompanies mention of found footage films, the V/H/S series has gained decent critical feedback, if only because it own's the gimmick in such a ridiculous way that it's honestly hard to criticize. In that tradition, V/H/S: Viral, the third film in the series, reaches a level of camera saturation that's admirable in it's scope. It doesn't make a damn bit of sense, but it's still admirable.
Although it more or less follows the same anthology structure as the rest of the series, the breakneck pace of the film seems to fulfill the qualities promised by the "viral" in the title. All three of the non-wrapper segments are so ludicrous that it's hard to look away from the screen. They are ambitious in scale, effects, and camera gimmickry. "Dante the Great" is the first V/H/S short to mix the found footage element with "professional" newscasts. It's hard to tell whether that's a worthwhile direction to take, but it was something new. "Gorgeous Vortex" starts off like a bad sci-fi movie and then takes a jaw dropping turn that seriously defies explanation. "Bonestorm" is relatively straightforward, but a lot of fun. How has it taken this crew three films to make a segment that starts off as a skate video?
V/H/S Viral's approach to the wrapper segment eschews the stack of tapes next to a dusty armchair in favor of wrapping the entire film in a segment that closely resembles a 6-star warning level in Grand Theft Auto. If you like constant sirens, light flashes, car accidents, and non-sequiturs, you will be transfixed throughout the entire film. There is some subversive social commentary about topics like revenge porn and our obsession with following and filming chaos and violence, but the obtuseness of the conclusion really makes you wonder if the commentary was accidental.
Overall V/H/S: Viral is just wild enough to be enjoyable. While it never quite achieves the nightmarish heights of something like Trash Humpers, it earns its rightful place in the pantheon of films that are best viewed projected on a stained bed sheet at a warehouse party. If that was the intention, mission accomplished.