“What’s wrong, sweetheart – too much for you? Prefer the Meisner technique?”
Story: An obnoxious drama teacher. A self-satisfied artist. An egocentric author. A sculptor way too into her art. And a band looking for that perfect series of notes. What do they have in common besides being pretentious as hell? Well, the last word in that previous sentence will give you a hint.
Subgenre: Anthology Horror
Release Date: 2022
FX: Fantastic monster makeup, gruesomely fun gore
Some Clichés/Tropes: Obnoxious Instructors, Pretentious Creators Way Into Their Art, Staring Deeply Into Mirrors, The Scare Of Jump
Where I Watched: Shudder
Spooky or Nah?: I absolutely love a good horror anthology. Hell, I’ll even stare transfixed at a half-assed one. Allegoria takes an interesting premise – art in all it’s various forms – and delivers an interesting batch of stories that are loosely connected, but could easily stand on their own as short films. Unsurprising, as this is the first time writer/director Spider One helmed a feature film, having worked on shorts and music videos prior to this outing. While this film has lofty goals and often reaches for greatness? It comes up shy thanks to messy connections within the stories, and smash cuts that feel more WTF than OOH YEAH.
Though there is a lot to enjoy here, especially when the stories are allowed to dig in a little. The first story – new student Brody in an acting class literally gone to hell – is suitably creepy even though the Twilight Zone-ish climax is easy to guess. It’s a quick and dirty start to the film, and though I wish it’d been a bit longer, it stands well as a nice opening stinger. Things shift to an artist’s loft, and we’re into the second story; a painter who’s so up his own ass that his art is everything. So naturally, things take a turn for the creepy. I didn’t quite get how the climax came about, nor what the heck was going on with Marcus the artist, or why. A moment or two of fleshing out the why of it all would have made for a more fulfilling scare.
Story three? Writing, baby! The moral of this story is to be careful how talented you are, lest things get out of hand. Yeah, we’ve seen this story play out in other short stories and films, but Edward Hong as writer Eddie Park gives a hilariously cheesy, full-of-himself take on the blowhard author. Then we get to schluby guy who’s first date with sculptor Ivy has him desperately trying to keep up with her cool artist vibe. Maybe a bit too hard. This story has the “big guns” actor-wise, with Rob Zombie’s Halloween‘s Scout Taylor-Compton (uncredited on IMDb) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Adam Busch as hopeful guy John. The fifth and final story is the longest of the group, focusing on music and band member Ivy’s search for music “that can literally change someone’s consciousness, man”. Be careful what you wish for…
Spider One loosely connects these stories by having some characters know of/interact with others from other stories. Brody is dating Marcus, who was dating Ivy, who watched a film written by Eddie on her date with John, and so on. But these reveals feel shoehorned in, rather than organic. And the stories themselves feel rushed, as if a timer was about to go off if we didn’t get to the next story Right Now. While the fast-n-loose way this film plays with time and place is fun, and the FX is wonderfully done for a lower-budget romp, I couldn’t help but feel a sense rawness, in a bad way. Like the pie’s undercooked a bit, y’know? It’s still pie, and pie is always wonderful…but with a few tweaks here and there, it could have been really fantastic.