Are Scream’s Randy Meeks’ rules for successfully surviving a horror movie suitable for a movie like Viral? Let’s take a look.
Every now and then we will get a horror movie about some sort of parasite that turns people into flesh-eating creatures (maybe they’re zombies, maybe not). In 2016 we got one of those in the shape of Viral, a sci-fi horror movie directed by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost (Paranormal Activity 3 and 4).
Viral brings nothing new to the genre and to be quite honest, it’s very predictable and won’t keep you at the edge of your seat – if you’re looking for something, let’s say, a bit more relaxed, this movie can be a good option. Something I’ve learned during the making of this column, is that movies take a fun turn when watched under Randy’s lens, doesn’t matter the amount of blood, gore, violence, or comedy it has (or not).
Viral in a Nutshell
After a viral outbreak leads a suburban area in California to a quarantine, sisters Stacey (Analeigh Tipton) and Emma (Sofia Black D’Elia) do their best to survive the seemingly apocalyptic epidemic.
That’s it. That’s the movie.
And now, Randy’s rules: you can never have sex, you can never drink or do drugs, and never (ever) under any circumstances say “I’ll be right back”. The rules apply in apocalyptic scenarios too.
Rule: Never (ever) Under Any Circumstances Say “I’ll Be Right Back”
The line is not spoken, but it’s the intention when Emma’s friend, Gracie, collapses as the first victim of the “worm flu” at school and another boy tells Emma to get help. Of course Emma’s intention is to go get the nurse and come back. It’s her best friend who’s dying on the floor.
She leaves, and Gracie coughs blood to the boy’s face. That’s right: hello, contagious “worm flu”. The boy eventually turns into one of those flesh-eating creatures. The rule didn’t apply to Emma, who was the one who left, but to the poor guy who was just being a good person. Sad.
Anyway, the boy is infected, right? Remember him because now we’re jumping to the next rules:
Rules: You Can Never Have Sex and You Can Never Drink or Do Drugs
The whole area is in quarantine, and the girls’ dad left to look for their mom and now can’t go back home. So they’re alone. What do they do when their dad tells them “no boys over”? They let boys in.
Stacey, the oldest sister, lets her boyfriend in (well, he sneaks in but she lets him stay). And yes, they have sex. The next day, Stacey and her boyfriend go to a party and force Emma to go too. Keep in mind that the area is in quarantine and a party isn’t supposed to happen but oh well. Everyone drinks, everyone has fun (except Stacey who finds her boyfriend cheating on her) until the aforementioned infected guy pops up. And coughs blood on Stacey. Boom, infected.
Stacey, the sister who had sex with her boyfriend and had a few drinks. Sure, Emma had a couple of drinks too and was about to have sex with her crush, Evan, but they didn’t. She gets to live.
When Randy presented the rules, he was referring to how being a virgin, not drinking, not doing any drugs, and not saying “I’ll be right back” will save you because these have turned into clichés in the genre. So far, I haven’t taken these rules exactly as they are (sorry, Randy) and instead have questioned how much the story would change if they were followed.
But what do I know: Viral does follow the rules like Randy intended. The virgin character survives, but she had some drinks, so she had to run for her life. On the other hand, the sexually active character that also had something to drink didn’t make it (along with her boyfriend). Not having sex and not drinking wouldn’t have changed the course of events.
And so we have a movie that follows Randy’s rules they way he wanted them to.
Which movies should we apply “Randy’s Rules” to? Let us know!