Teenagers are voracious creatures. The world and its stimuli are all opening up to their newly grown bodies. They are unquenchably curious about all the pleasure and experiences that await them. They experiment with drugs, sex, and social media adoration, and feed their minds with all types of media. Videofilia (and Other Viral Symptoms) attempts to be a film for and about the oversaturated teenage mind.
The Peruvian film from Juan Daniel F. Molero barely has the patience to follow any sort of plot about two kids, Luz and Junior, who start hooking up after meeting online. We meet Junior (Terom) in 2012, the night of the Mayan predicted apocalypse, waiting for the end of the world with nihilistic glee. He and his best friend are both horny and down to get high. When they’re not talking about sex, they’re talking about wild stoner conspiracy theories and shallow attempts at philosophical grandeur.
The film gets its main visual conceit from one such theory. Early on, Luz (Muki Sabogal) posts an article on her Facebook page about the world being a computer simulation. The movie liberalizes that with pop-ups and viral memes appearing on the screen from time to time. When the kids get high, the film abstracts time and space through pixelation. Images freeze and break down and regroup in a disorienting fashion. It’s the world’s coolest screensaver. Like Unfriended before it, the film seems designed to be viewed on a laptop screen.
Viewers’ patience for that kind of psychedelia will determine their love for this film. Looking back on the insipid and pretentious conversations of youth is always good for a wince. Some people are able to turn that into incisive art (Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale comes to mind). Molero does not seem to be approaching this material with any sort of distance or reflection. At nearly two hours, that grates on any mature viewer, and its ending is predictably lazy for its stoner ethos. The trippy visuals get cranked to 11 with suggestions of tragic endings.