The third installment of the “V/H/S” horror-anthology series, titled “V/H/S: Viral,” has just one decent segment in it. And by “decent,” I mean unhealthy and outrageous and fantastically bizarre.
Like its predecessors “Viral” rolls out spooky stories that appear to be “found footage.” Therefore, as with most examples of this form, we see many laborious reasons for scenes to be captured on security cameras and the like. Anyway. The movie overall is strictly for cultists, but the one good segment suggests a filmmaker ready to burst.
First, we have to get through a feeble framing story that possibly has something to do with a virus that travels from one electronic device to another, a comment on our wired-together world. Then there’s “Dante the Great,” a mock-documentary about a magician whose cloak allows him to perform real supernatural magic — as long as he feeds it with human victims.
That idea is old-fashioned horror, but “Bonestorm” is up-to-date: skater dudes with GoPro cameras visit a Tijuana skate park, only to inadvertently summon up demons when they spill blood at the sacred site.
There’s some humor in the idea that these idiots who want to strike it rich with their own skateboarding video end up connecting with ancient evil, but the gag repeats itself once the concept kicks into gear.
If those segments are mind-numbing, Nacho Vigalondo’s “Parallel Monsters” restores our brains to proper insanity. A scientist (Gustavo Salmeron) builds a device in his basement that opens onto a parallel universe, where his exact double has been building the same portal in his basement.
But when the doppelgangers venture into each other’s worlds for a few minutes, our scientist finds things warped in ways that stagger the imagination. I like how Vigalondo goes from quiet oddness (uh, what is that bloodied object hanging in the living room of the parallel house?) to over-the-top craziness within a few minutes.
The fact that none of the wildness is explained — hey, there isn’t time — makes the story stronger and creepier. Spaniard Vigalondo directed “Timecrimes” (2007), an ingenious little time-travel picture, and he’s obviously got ideas galore. “Parallel Monsters” feels as inventive and compact as a “Twilight Zone” episode, and fully deserves to go viral.
“V/H/S: Viral” (2 stars)
Another horror anthology for the “V/H/S” series, with a low success rate this time out. There’s only one solid story in the bunch, but it’s really good: a tale of a scientist who discovers his exact duplicate through a door to a mirror world.
Rating: R, for violence, language, subject matter
Showing: Grand Illusion theater