A reasonably enjoyable watch, but covering no new ground if truth be told, Viral is one of those films that has pretty much vanished from memory as soon as the credits roll.

A mix of infection chiller and zombie carnage, this is very much teen horror territory – in essence that is no bad thing, but it always dangles the possibility of filling the screen with annoying characters, and Viral certainly delivers on that score.

The set-up is pretty simple – focusing on the Drakeford family, who have recently moved to a quiet suburban neighbourhood.

We have schoolteacher dad Michael (Michael Kelly) and teen daughters Emma and Stacey (Sofia Black-D’Elia and Analeigh Tipton), with the mother ‘away on business’ for the duration of the film.

Things don’t stay normal for too long, as after references to a viral outbreak pop up in the background of the film’s opening scenes, Emma’s friend Gracie (Linzie Gray) coughs up her guts in class and, before you know it, the town is quarantined and everybody seems to be running around 28 Days Later-style.

With the National Guard moving in to keep everybody in their homes, and dad Michael stuck on the way to their airport to try and meet their mother, naturally Emma and Stacey (along with Emma’s ‘sort-of’ boyfriend Evan) decide to ignore all the instructions and decide to go on the run.

But with the virus sweeping the area at an alarming rate, what are their chances of survival….

That’s about it plot-wise, with the film racing along at a frantic rate, clocking in at about 80 minutes.

Directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman (of Catfish, Paranormal Activity 3 and 4 and Nerve fame) certainly deliver the goods when it comes to gore, although a lot of the film is shot in near-total darkness, leaving you to guess what is happening a lot of the time.

As for the virus, it seems to be a ‘catch-all’ version of cinematic infections – we get infectees coughing blood and sweating profusely, but also becoming psychotic – as well as ‘mother’ virus holders sprouting tentacle-like creatures from their mouths as a way of transmitting the disease.

The performances are strong, with Black-D’Elia and Tipton particularly effective, although their roles very much fit into the ‘annoying teen’ category – Black-D’Elia’s Emma the shy, nerdy type while Tipton’s Stacey rolls out the tiresome ‘rebellious’ stereotype.

Viral will certainly not bore you, and I happily sat through it (knowing it would be done and dusted within an hour and a half mind you) – but you will certainly have seen better recent horrors.

DVD Review: Viral
2.5Overall Score
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About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.