Genre : Horror/SF
Country : USA
Sofia Black-D’Elia : Emma
Analeigh Tipton : Stacey
Travis Tope : Evan
“There’s something going around that’s making people sick.
Most are now speculating that it’s parasitic.”
Oh no, again another zombie movie? Or is it the umpteenth film about the end of the world thanks to a fast spreading epidemic? “You know what?” they thought at Blumhouse Production. “Lets just mix together those two worn-out horror genres“. The result is “Viral“. And I have to admit, the result isn’t so bad. It certainly won’t compete for the price of best horror. And it won’t leave an everlasting impression. But because of the convincing performances and the growing tension, this movie managed to captivate me.
Emma Drakeford (Sofia Black-D’Elia) is a young, shy student who just moved from Berkeley to Shadow Canyon with her father Michael (Michael Kelly) and the rather rebellious sister Stacey (Analeigh Tipton). Apart from the everyday events in this secluded town and the worries that occur at school, there isn’t much happening there. The rest of the world, however, isn’t doing so well. According to the media, there’s an epidemic spreading alarmingly fast. Apparently this isn’t something the two Drakeford sisters worry about. Emma struggles with her feelings for Evan (Travis Tope), while Stacey tries to keep her boyfriend CJ (Machine Gun Kelly) under control. However, when their neighbourhood is put under quarantine and they are being attacked by infected fellow students, who want to pass the infection by vomiting blood into someones face, they realize that the situation is getting more threatening.
First of all, a petty side note about the title of this film. You can safely call this a somewhat misplaced and misleading title. Perhaps it’s fashionable to use this term, since everything is going “viral” on social networks. But this infection which is wreaking havoc in the US, has nothing to do with viruses or viral infections. It’s a parasite. During the media reports this is cited repeatedly. Even Michael Drakeford, biology teacher at Emma’s school, talks about it in one of his classes with tasty pictures as illustration. Are you affraid there’ll be sickening images full of wriggling meat maggots? Don’t worry because that won’t be the case.
And that’s really the only disappointing element in “Viral“. As a horror, where a parasite threatens to wipe out an entire population and infected slowly turning into blood vomiting absurdities with superhuman powers, it’s all quite ordinary portrayed. No bloody scenes. Most of these horrific situations are handled off-screen. Is this a budgetary decision? Or a deliberate decision so the film is more accessible to a wider audience?
The end result is an exciting but also soft horror, with a teenage love and sisterly love as a major central theme. But the performances are really credible, the shootings look exquisite and there was even an interesting story. Sofia Black-D’Elia plays by far the most striking character and her fragility and vulnerability look very natural and believable. Analeigh Tipton is completely the opposite of her sister. Not exactly someone who sticks to the rules. And a real bully towards Emma sometimes. But above all, she turns out to be a loving sister. These successful performances combined with the better camera work, makes this film a must see.