Review: Virtual Reality

Written and directed by Hernán Findling, co-written by Lourdes Prado Méndez, a film director makes a dark pact for his career to be a success. When he summons the crew and cast to his home for a first screening of the movie they just filmed, they will have to survive a reality they never saw coming. Starring: Vanesa González, Federico Bal, Christian Sancho, Guillermo Berthold, César Bordón, Santiago Magariños, Sofía Del Tuffo and Francisco González Gil.

Hernán Findling kicks off Virtual Reality strongly with a classic horror opening, plenty of tension and fear, as well as a great setting but sadly, it’s not bound to last. A key problem with the film is that choice to have the characters’ fate controlled by AI, and an alternate version of themselves, means they have limited control of the outcome. They do still find a way to change things up rather than resigning to a violent end but it’s not enough. It’s a surprisingly simple story, there’s no real twists or turns, it’s transparent what’s going on from start to finish.

That in itself isn’t always an issue in horror but it doesn’t have the fun or risky side to make up for that. The violence is decent but not scary or having to cover your eyes style gore. The direction on the whole also really struggles to establish itself, it’s messy and rough. A lot of it feels low quality and using a shaky handheld style gets tired quite quickly. The impact of that is it doesn’t have the space to build an atmosphere, unlike its much more structured opening, with suspense and tension. The tone and progression similarly make it very easy to predict.

However, the aspect that holds up strongest against its weaknesses is the acting. It’s a solid ensemble at work, and they do a decent job of trying to inject some fear. They also do well at building the different relationships between one another. Perhaps the only outlier is the character of the director whose arc feels too obvious, his entire persona and purpose is given away immediately so it doesn’t feel like he has much to add.

Virtual Reality is unfortunately working with a flimsy premise and is backed up by messy direction. There’s a solid cast at work but they simply don’t have a lot to work with. The progression is predictable, the visual is lacking and there isn’t enough individuality or risk to make up for that, resulting in something that falters far before the finish line. It’s a slasher that’s missed out on the key element of surprise.

Verdict: ✯✯ | 4/10

Out now on VOD & Blu-ray

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