VHS Viral (2014) Review Film4 FrightFest 2014 – Day 5

The first installment in the VHS series delivered a shot in the arm to the well-worn found footage genre.

Rather than rely on people running around in the dark a la Blair Witch or dodgy grainy footage implying terror, the first film cross-pollinated Hollywood-style effects on a low-budget scale to produce something genuinely different.

What’s more, the inventiveness of the makers behind the first film made sure the stories themselves we saw were new. It was the perfect marriage of punchy style and content.

By the time we got to the second instalment (VHS 2) it was only the Gareth Evans (of The Raid fame) section which still managed to carry the flame of the first.

With VHS Viral the franchise has clearly run out of ideas as well as steam. All stories seem like pitches for much bigger Hollywood films rather than films designed to exploit the format. Indeed, the first film about a magician gone bad is told only incidentally in found footage and in parts told as a documentary.

The narrative bridge linking all stories is purposefully unintelligible as there appears to be no story and the constant frenetic jump cuts and film spasms are overused to the point they give you a headache, rather than to enforce the authenticity of the format you’re watching.

A sad example of an exciting franchise being milked far too fast and frequently for a quick buck.

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