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Film / V/H/S: Viral

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V/H/S/ Viral is a 2014 Found Footage anthology film featuring segments directed by Marcel Sarmiento, Gregg Bishop, Nacho Vigolando, Justin Benson, and Aaron Scott Moorehead. It follows 2012's V/H/S and 2013's V/H/S/2. It continues the series' theme of videos of violent supernatural events that subsequently have bizarre effects on those who view them, except now the films are being taken to a broader audience.

Amateur filmmaker Kevin finds an escape from the problems he has with his abusive grandmother by filming his beautiful girlfriend Iris. When a high-speed police chase enters his neighborhood, he seizes the opportunity to create the ultimate viral video. But his quest quickly becomes a frantic rescue mission when Iris is hypnotized and seemingly abducted by the runaway van.

  • Vicious Circles - The wraparound story. When a runaway ice cream truck speeds into Kevin's neighborhood with police in hot pursuit, he sees his shot at fame in the form of a viral video of the chase. But violence and injury slowly begin to overcome others filming the incident and Iris seemingly disappears into the pursued vehicle, leaving a hapless Kevin to follow her signal on his phone in hopes of finding her before it's too late.
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  • Dante The Great - An amateur magician living in a trailer park discovers a cloak with real magical powers that come at a bloody cost.
  • Parallel Monsters - Working in his basement, an inventor named Alfonso meets his twin from a parallel universe, but slowly discovers that the newly-discovered world has developed along a frighteningly different path than his own.
  • Bonestorm - A band of skateboarding hooligans take a break from filming their dangerous stunts for a day trip to Tijuana where they run afoul of a mysterious cult.


This movie provides examples of the following

  • Abusive Grandparent: Kevin of Vicious Circles lives with his grandmother with whom he is constantly quarreling and who bloodies his nose during a particularly vicious argument.
  • Action Girl: Scarlett. She quickly gets the hang of the Teleport Gun duel she finds herself in with Dante and doesn't back down, despite, or perhaps because of having seen what he's capable of.
  • Action Survivor: Jason and Danny of Bonestorm.
  • Affably Evil: The universe Alfonso visits in Parallel Monsters might be inhabited by Horny Devils with monstrous genitalia, who revel in gruesome rituals and films of human sacrifice, but other than that, they're really nice people who are just doing what's normal for them.
  • An Arm and a Leg: The wraparound features a bicyclist being dragged by a van until his feet tear off.
    • Camera Guy in Bonestorm gets his arm torn off.
  • Arc Words: "Haven't you ever wanted to be a part of something greater than yourself?"
    • "Do you want to go viral?"
  • Artifact of Doom: The cloak in Dante The Great, which houses, or may be an extension of, a hungry Eldritch Abomination.
  • Asshole Victim: Bonestorm's Camera Guy seems to be a sadist, pretending not to have caught the group's successful stunts on film and urging them to do more dangerous things. He's the first to die.
    • Scarlett's boyfriend, Clay.
      • The porn director and his taxi driver accomplice.
      • It's hard to feel bad over Dante's death when you consider that by this stage he was sacrificing people to use his cloak both for personal gain and willy nilly.
  • Badass Normal: Teenaged punk skaters Danny and Jason are incredibly tenacious, tough, and resourceful in a fight, able to hold their own in a skate park brawl against a pair of Marines and eventually against a seemingly endless army of undead.
  • Bigger Bad: The videos depict carnage perpetrated by a seemingly endless variety of horrific entities, some of whom are quite powerful. But it is revealed that the videos themselves - along with whoever or whatever is promulgating them - are the greatest threat to human civilization of all.
  • Big Red Button: Conveniently labeled "UPLOAD."
  • Chekhov's Gun: Bonestorm features a literal one. One of the skaters casually wields a semi-automatic handgun, presumably for showing off or intimidation. It appears again at the climax, allowing him to take down several attackers with ease.
    • One of the magic props shown in Dante's studio is a bed of nails. It is later used to impale a SWAT team member.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The rope trick Dante teaches Scarlett winds up being what she uses to defeat him.
  • *Click* Hello: At one point in the climax of Dante the Great, he switches places with a SWAT officer down to their CLOTHES, shooting the officer's partner in the back after the one he switched with is shot in his stead.
  • Continuity Nod: The wraparound is littered with Freeze Frame Bonuses of characters from the franchises' previous installments, such as Lily from the first film and Father from the second.
    • In Bonestorm cultists sacrifice themselves to release a demon who rewards them by reanimating them as undead: a sequence of events so similar to what happened in Safe Haven that it's difficult to imagine they are not connected.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Only hinted at in the wraparound segments of the previous films, it is seemingly confirmed by the end of this one. Each of the other segments fits this trope as well.
  • Crapsack World: Adding to the tally of the previous installments, we now have an Eldritch Abomination disguised as an article of clothing, a zombie cult and the maneating demon who leads them, and the videos of all these things might just have finally succeeded in bringing about The End of the World as We Know It. Yet somehow there still manages to be a parallel world that's even more of a crapsack than this one.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Clay, Scarlett's abusive boyfriend in Dante the Great, ends up having multiple bones broken by Dante's telekinesis before Dante finally kills him. Several of the SWAT officers in the climax suffer similar fates.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: A mainstay trait of the series that continues here, uninterrupted.
  • Distressed Damsel: Iris disappears, her frantic, screaming image on Kevin's phone giving him hope that she is still alive.
  • Domestic Abuser: Clay in Dante The Great. Too bad for him his girlfriend is in the employ of a Serial Killer.
  • Driven to Madness: Whatever Mirror!Alfonso did to Marta, it apparently left her screaming insane.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: The fight between the porn director and the model is ended by a police car flipping through the air and landing on their taxi, killing all three people inside.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Dante in Dante the Great. When he discovers what he needs to do to fuel his cloak's powers, he is initially hesitant, but soon becomes intoxicated with the things the cloak lets him do.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: It's implied that Dante genuinely cares for Scarlett, up until she turns him in to the police.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Dante in Dante the Great kills his assistant's abusive boyfriend, apparently as punishment for said abuse, even commenting "What a dick."
    • The parallel Alphonso is apparently deeply disturbed by what happens during his off-screen encounter with main-world Marta in Parallel Monsters. Doesn't stop him from trying to kill main-world Alphonso. Also played straight with parallel-Marta, who kills parallel-Alpohonso because she thinks he hit her.
  • Everybody Calls Him "Barkeep": Two of the gang in Bonestorm are only referred to by the others as Camera Guy and Gas Money Kid.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The occult chant in Bonestorm.
  • Eye Scream: It's implied that watching the vignettes on YouTube is making people's eyes bleed.
  • Fan Disservice: A shot of a naked grandmother who has to be at least in her 70s. Also, Mirror!Marta and her very prominent Vagina Dentata.
  • Fanservice: Averted. A short sequence of a woman stripping for an amateur porn director in Vicious Circles initially looks like it's going to be this, but quickly turns to Fan Disservice when she pulls a gun and turns the tables on him.
    • Iris briefly flashes the camera in the opening segment, but it's heavily distorted.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Dante in Dante the Great. He has stage presence and charisma when things are going right, but the instant the smallest thing escapes his control he starts losing his temper. He even makes a series of Lame Puns when using the cloak to fight off a SWAT team.
  • Flipping the Bird: One of the skeletons in Bonestorm does this just before exploding from a firework.
  • Foreshadowing: In the wake of the skate park brawl the blonde skater scoffs at his friend, saying that in a life-or-death fight his friend would leave him to die. At the end the Skullfaces overwhelm him as he tells his friend to save himself. Prompting his friend to sucessfully rescue him and finish off the undead with illegal fireworks.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The title character of Dante The Great. He starts out as an unemployed trailer park hick who constantly fumbles amateur magic tricks to the amusement of his friends. All that changes when he finds a magician's cloak imbued with frightening supernatural power.
  • Funny Background Event: The blood from Camera Guy's severed arm catches fire. Cut to Danny and Jason continuing to fight for their lives while Camera Guy runs past in the background, screaming, flailing and on fire.
  • Game Face: When preparing to attack with their genitalia the titular beings of Parallel Monsters radiate red light from their eyes and mouths.
  • Groin Attack: Alfonso escapes from an attacking monster by skewering its demonic phallus with the screwdriver he carries.
    • Inverted when the mirror-Alfonso is shown being devoured alive by his wife's Vagina Dentata.
    • Threatened by a woman to a skeezy porn producer in the wraparound story.
  • Hope Spot: Scarlett kills Dante and burns the cloak, only for it to appear again, unharmed in her house, where it promptly seizes her.
    • Kevin catches up with the icecream truck holding Iris, but it's a trap, and Iris was Dead All Along.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Harry Houdini had a brief relationship with the cloak that empowers Dante The Great. He got wise and chucked it.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Scarlett uses a rope trick that Dante himself taught her to feed him to the cloak.
  • Humanoid Abomination: A recurring theme of the series, it reaches ludicrous extremes in Parallel Monsters.
  • I Have Your Wife: At the film's climax it's fairly obvious that Iris on the TV screen is under the control of someone or something else and Kevin carries out "her" orders in order to stop her hurting herself. It turns out she was Dead All Along.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Only one child is implied to be involved in any of the movie (the one recording the gangbangers' party), and they are expressly spared the events they witnessed.
  • Ironic Echo: Deliberately invoked by Scarlett at the end of Dante the Great.
    • Bonestorm has one skater mockingly insist that his friend would abandon him in a moment if things got dangerous. His friend comes through.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Dante again. Once he realizes what the cloak needs to fuel its powers, it doesn't take him long to start doing it as a simple matter of course.
  • Karmic Death: Many.
    • Dante the Great: Clay, Scarlett's abusive boyfriend, as well as Dante himself.
    • Parallel Monsters: Inverted: Both versions of Alfonso end up hurting the other's version of Marta, but it's through mutual misunderstanding and fear rather than malice. Both end up being killed for things that their mirror!version did.
    • Bonestorm: The skateboarders have very little in the way of redeeming features and it's implied that karma plays a hand in their demise.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Vicious Circles invokes this trope throughout, but most brutally when the ice cream truck strikes a police officer so hard that he explodes, his twitching arm landing at Kevin's feet.
  • Made of Plasticine: The Skull Faces die from one or two good whacks with a skateboard deck. And then avert this trope, by rising from the dead repeatedly until they are nothing but skeletons.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: At one point during the wraparound a dog gets impaled through the head by a serving fork. It just sits there, seemingly still alive and unaware of the wound.
    • Whatever transpires between Evil Alfonso and Good Martha leaves both of them drenched in blood from head to toe. Neither of them seems significantly impaired by it.
      • In Bonestorm one of the heroes gets his face set on fire. After a splash of water he's ready to keep fighting like nothing happened.
  • Meaningful Name: The protagonist of Dante The Great is a redhead named Scarlett.
    • Averted with Dante himself. It's just his Stage Name.
    • The female protagonist of the wraparound story, Iris, is seen almost exclusively through the lenses of various cameras.
  • More Than Mind Control: Implied to be happening with several people in Vicious Circles, most notably Iris, who walks out into the middle of the street before disappearing, and seemingly taunts Kevin from a TV in the ending.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Kevin says this before and after giving in to Iris's demands to upload the videos.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Unlike the prior films in this series, the film medium is only logically part of Parallel MonstersDante the Great has VHS tapes referenced, but not exclusively, and Bonestorm and Vicious Circles both expressly do not use VHS at all.
  • New Media Are Evil: Implied in Vicious Circles where YouTube and Twitter are specifically name-dropped as helping spread evil videos.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: An arm here and a leg there are all that is ever seen of the Big Bads of Dante The Great and Bonestorm. The driver of the ice cream van is never seen at all.
  • Oddball in the Series: V/H/S and V/H/S 2 varied up their entries' sub-genres. Viral instead has three demonic/satanic-themed entries, and two of them being almost primarily action films. See also Reimagining the Artifact below.
  • Oh, Crap!: Scarlett, when found by the cloak again.
    • Jason and Danny when the demon roars from underground and all the Skull Faces they've slain get back up.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Dante.
  • Pet the Dog: The teens in Bonestorm normally have zero regard for others, but when a homeless man approaches them they are happy to share their snacks and smokes with him, much to the chagrin of Camera Guy, who wants to see them fight him.
  • Police are Useless: Despite the van of Vicious Circles literally traveling in a circle, the police seem to have no clue how to stop it. Possibly justified by the further death and chaos created by the van diverting their attention and resources.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: A sign that someone is under the mental influence of the videos.
  • Reimagining the Artifact: Viral no longer involves someone actively watching the vignettes shown, and indeed has distanced itself from the VHS medium of the prior movies. Instead, the stories are something bystanders are watching during the wraparound segment (but which the protagonist is oblivious to except for noticing the bleeding eyes), and most of the camera work is clearly using digital cameras or phone cameras.
  • Religion of Evil: The alternate world of Parallel Monsters is policed by massive blimps emblazoned with upside down crosses. Meanwhile, the inhabitants watch and perform gruesome rituals in their homes as entertainment.
    • Whatever the cult in Bonestorm believes in, it probably counts.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When police pursuing the van come near a backyard party, the attendees - heavily implied to be criminals - panic. In the following scuffle, a dog owned by one of the attendees is killed. Cut to said party guest standing over the dead bodies of his friends, all of whom have various kitchen implements sticking out of them.
  • Signature Style: In Parallel Monsters, Nacho Vigolondo once more indulges his fondness for the Glowing Eyes and Throat Light combination.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Beethoven's 9th Symphony plays at the most inappropriate time possible.
  • Squick: The other world in Parallel Monsters treats bloody dismemberment as foreplay. Parallel-Marta is even visibly a little turned on at the thought her husband may have butchered one of her would-be lovers.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Kevin spends the entire wraparound story chasing the vehicle that took Iris in hopes of saving her, only to find her dead at the end with a smartphone shoved in her mouth.
  • Supervillain: Dante nails the trope through-and-through: a down-on-his luck street magician finds a magic cloak that grants him real powers in exchange for regular meals of human flesh. Subverted in that he has no super hero arch rival. Instead he is defeated by a mundane aspiring magician who happens to know one clever trick that Dante himself taught her.
  • The Dog Bites Back: A woman being filmed by a man for an amateur porn site in the wraparound story turns out to already be on it, due to him having bought some old footage from her ex. She draws a gun and forces him to strip, threatening to shoot him in the groin and implying via her dialogue that the exposure had a massive negative impact on her life.
  • Twin Switch: Parallel Monsters is this with a dark twist.
  • The Un-Reveal: When Kevin finally catches up to the ice cream van the only sign of the driver is a pair of severed hands duct-taped to the steering wheel.
  • Vagina Dentata: Parallel Monsters shows female and male varieties.
  • Wham Shot: It quickly becomes obvious to both Alfonso and the viewer that something is very off about his and Marta's Mirror Universe counterparts. When he looks up at the night sky and sees the satanic zeppelin he realizes that he has stumbled into nothing less than Hell on Earth.
    • The final shot of the film: the electrical systems of the city beginning to run amok as The Upload corrupts everything.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: Taken to its nightmarish extent. In the Mirror Universe in Parallel Monsters Alfonso goes outside to see a satanic zeppelin with a huge, neon inverted cross broadcasting demonic chanting.

Example of: