Many movies have detailed the end of the world due to an unstoppable epidemic so on paper Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s Viral perhaps seems a little passé however given a chance this gripping genre mash up of teen movie and outbreak horror is extremely creepy and captivating.
From a script by Barbara Marshall and Christopher Landon, who penned Paranormal Activity 2 to 4 among other things, the story revolves around sisters Emma and Stacey (played by Sofia Black-D’Elia and Analeigh Tipton respectively) who couldn’t be more different in their personalities.
New in town while wild child Stacey plans midnight meet ups with her boyfriend CJ (Machine Gun Kelly) and avoids school, Emma is far happier at home studying and avoiding most human interaction with her peers.
As the pair bicker and fight at their school where their father also teaches rumors and conspiracy theories fly around of a new form of virus called Worm Flu which has infected countries across the globe and could be spreading to the US.
Before they know it the town is plunged into panic as the terrifying disease takes over the populace with the infected attacking and vomiting blood over others to spread the plague. With the whole area under quarantine and their Dad away looking for their mother the sisters are left alone to survive but soon they realise the sick all around them are becoming something far more monstrous than anyone thought possible.
Blending the building blocks of an adolescent romance with an infection movie is a great concept and works exceedingly well due to the well-paced script and solid direction from Joost and Schulman who have collaborated on a number of short and full length movies including Paranormal Activity 3 and 4 and Nerve since their brilliant breakthrough documentary Catfish which gained them instant fame.
Containing some deeply disturbing scenes and excellent effects Viral moves into post-apocalyptic monster movie territory seamlessly from its teen drama start taking us through the unfolding events alongside the two extremely likable leads who carry the film as the town disintegrates into chaos and their rocky relationship is pushed to its limits by the terror filled transformation happening to the world and people all around them.
Although it draws from a number of cinematic sources much like the dreaded and disgusting Worm Flu in the film Viral mutates these basic concepts into an entirely original organism crafting an outstanding outbreak horror that really gets under your skin.