It’s amazing to see how the world of film and television production has progressed over the last ten years. Before the internet became the massive source that it is today, productions used to take place on location or on hand built film sets. Now, with the invention of more high-tech cameras, you can literally make a movie (as crappy as it may be) any place at any time. Now, too, with video streaming outlets like Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, and Hulu, you can get films delivered to your television, computer, or phone at the click of a button. And let’s not forget YouTube. The video uploading giant has launched the careers of so many singers, actors, and directors. One of which is Trisha Paytas.
Who can forget Trisha Paytas from season two of “Who Wants to be A Superhero?” Since the show ended in 2007, Paytas has gone on to make numerous appearances on game shows, reality shows, talk shows, and television documentaries. She’s also an author and one of the reigning queens of YouTube. Her two combined channels have over 1,400,000 subscribers and thousands of videos to watch. In between all of this, she still somewhat pursues a career in acting…which brings us to my review of Viral Video.
Viral Video is directed by Kale Flowers based on the script he wrote with Trisha. Paytas also stars in Viral Video alongside “21 Jump Street” star Richard Grieco. Frank Gerrish (Blind Dating, Daddy Day Camp) and Julia Boyd (“No Regrets”) appear in this short film, too. Viral Video was co-produced by John Rogers of Blackwater Valley Exorcism and Night of the Living Dead 3D: Re-Animation fame.
Viral Video starts as a normal day for Trisha Paytas while she appears at a signing for her new book, Trisha’s 13 Nights of Fright (which is real and available on Amazon). After an overzealous fan gets a little too hands on, Paytas returns to her make-up room for a breather. While recording a new video for all of her little “fishies,” she is suddenly accosted by a masked, gloved man and taken hostage. When she awakes, she finds herself in the middle of an abandoned, dark basement…and at the mercy of…well, another more overzealous fan!
Realistically this plot is kind of creepy because it’s something that could happen to any celebrity, or any human being. In Paytas’ case, I’m a fan of her television appearances and books and I’ve seen some of the mean, scary, and downright terrifying things that people have said to her over the years. In the world we live in it’s a sad thing to say, but I could really see her being attacked by a crazy fan at some point. Some of her YouTube videos, especially, have rattled people. While I never wish any harm to come to Trisha, I give her props for poking fun at a real life danger to her own life and using it in a realistic, narrative horror short.
Speaking from a production standpoint, Viral Video is professionally shot and looks polished and is easy one of the better horror YouTube videos in recent months. This isn’t so surprising when you realize that John Rogers was a co-producer and he’s enjoying success of his very own at this point. The editor, Justin Ballou from Mansion of Blood, did a fantastic job, too, and they, coupled with the cast, really brought this project to a much higher quality than some of the other YouTubers. My only critiques is that I felt that Paytas ran down the same dirty corridor several times and that looks bad on film, and I would also nix the entire electrocution scene.
Nixing the electrocution scene, Viral Video’s low point, would not only enhance the overall image of the short film by a couple notches, but it will also shave off a minute or so of time that would make it the perfect viewing length. The length of the Viral Video was too long, in my opinion, but it’s something that Paytas will remedy in her career in writing as she moves forward and it’s something Kale Flowers will understand as he furthers his career as a director. I just want to be 100% articulate in the fact that they did a fantastic job with this, but there’s little things I pick up on as a reviewer that I think can be filed under constructive criticism.
All in all, I think Viral Video is a success for Trisha Paytas and everyone involved. It gives us little glimpses into her abilities as an actress – though I’m not to sure I’m convinced in her abilities as the lead actress – and a little glimpse into her life. It’s professionally shot and will look excellent on a demo reel for everyone involved. And it shows that Paytas can compete with all the other YouTubers like Shane Dawson who create original YouTube videos/films. Most of all, Viral Video was released just in time for Halloween season, but it’s a short film that can be watched all year round for its subject material.
I’m going to give it a 7.3 out of 10! Before you criticize this rating, please know that I graded Viral Video on the fact that it was made solely for YouTube and as a Halloween present for Trisha’s fans. It’s not meant to be this big cultural phenomena – despite the title – that someone pitched to Lionsgate. Let’s be fair!