A “worm flu” spreads across the U.S. in Viral.
Teenage sisters, Emma and Stacy are trapped in their own quarantined neighborhood during a life-threatening viral outbreak. The virus, spread by a wormlike parasite turns infected people into strong, fast and vicious attackers. With their father locked outside the quarantine zone and the lack of reliable information coming from the government, the girls work with their neighbor, Evan to try to escape to safety.
The story is a little different than most pandemic plots. The worm virus transmits via blood contact and seems to enter the body through the eyes, nose or mouth. Once inside, it begins to control the host. Viral opens with real-life news reports about a virus. The footage is likely related to the H1N1 panic when President Obama tried to calm the nation, encouraging protective measures for a virus that is fortunately not airborne. It is a decent attempt to add some realism to the story.
Viral has a few things going for it; an interesting story and good acting from the young performers but that is about all. The pace is very slow. By the time anything really significant happens, it is difficult to care. More than a few viewers might resort to checking emails or social media on their phones while watching this one.
As the story plods along, it does not always make sense. The kids break curfew and attend a house party during the quarantine. Suburban neighbors are inherently nosy and yet no one tries to call authorities or at least tell these kids to go home. Apparently, every adult in the neighborhood must have managed to get trapped outside the containment area.
The cast could easily pass for college students and the plot may have worked a little better if the characters were young adults near a college campus instead of high school students in their parents’ homes. The government delivers protection kits to the neighborhood, including masks but no goggles. If infected people are coughing up blood, wouldn’t anti-splash goggles be warranted? This is a minor criticism but one of many.
The movie is not terrible. It just isn’t very good. The filmmakers did a lot with some of the visual effects, the virus angle is fresh and the young actors are very talented. It has too many holes and the story is too unrealistic for so many kids to be on their own during a major public health crisis. Consider this your vaccine for Viral.
Appropriate gore 7
Production value 7
Final Cut score 36.5=73%