Sofia Black-D’Elia, Analeigh Tipton, Michael Kelly
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“…never really hits it out of the park as a body horror flick.”
The directors of Catfish and Paranormal Activity 3 & 4, Henry Joost and Ariel Schuman, take the helm of this body horror flick aimed squarely at the teen demographic? The result? The Walking Dead meet Degrassi High.
Sofia Black-D’Elia and Analeigh Tipton play sisters, Emma and Stacey, respectively. Emma, the youngest sister, is shy and studious, whilst Stacy, the eldest, is the kind of girl who will dye her hair blue and party all night if she has to. On a side note, it’s unclear if the directors were deliberately trying to make them look like Kendall and Kylie Jenner. When a viral outbreak sees the sisters quarantined in their hometown and separated from their parents, they have to put aside their differences in order to survive; particularly as symptoms of the virus include vomiting blood and biting your fellow neighbours. Like Barry Levinson’s The Bay, this is the direct cause of parasites burrowing their way into their host’s brains.
Despite its violence and gore, Viral never really hits it out of the park as a body horror flick. Even in a film that sees brain worms pouring out of their victims’ mouths, this is all relatively safe territory. In fact, it’s merely a backdrop to the high running emotions of the siblings as they’re thrown together under extremely taxing circumstances. In fact, outside of a few set pieces that see the girls and their boyfriends running from the infected, this may as well be a high school drama. Take for example, a superfluous subplot that sees Stacy keeping a large secret from Emma regarding their parents. With all this soul-searching and sisterly love, Viral never really gets to grips with what it wants to be, and shuffles along like one of its own infected.