V/H/S: Viral

V/H/S: Viral ★★½

Assessing anthology horror comes with its share of questions. Do the films deserve to be judged on the basis of their strongest segments or their weakest? Should it be a mathematical average of the segments combined? After strong showings from its two earlier incarnations, "V/H/S: Viral," the third film in the found-footage anthology series, is a clear step down, but it is not without its merits. Whether those merits mitigate the film's weaknesses is a worthy question, but the film may just qualify as watchable horror regardless of the answer.

Stretching its found footage conceit to the point of breaking, "V/H/S: Viral," like its predecessors, provides its audience with a bookending narrative into which narratively disparate horror segments are dropped. Thankfully, the segments are mostly compelling, giving filmmakers the opportunity to exercise their voices in short bursts of horror-charged energy. From a quasi-documentary about a magician, to a go-pro-shot short that evokes Spanish zombie films from decades past, the segments are spooky, weird, and darkly fun. Though not without their inconsistencies, they are mildly entertaining and suitably assembled.

The film, however, is let down by its framing device, a nonsensical and scattered tale of an ice cream truck and a police chase. Perhaps the umbrella narrative has deeper pretensions, but those are neither clear nor entertaining.

For low-budget, found-footage horror, "V/H/S: Viral" is almost enjoyable. As a showcase for filmmakers expressing themselves in unique and horrific short films, there is a definite appeal to the experience. The misses, however, nearly outweigh the hits, and the film registers as something only mediocre.

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