Released on August 1st, 2022, I had no prior information or expectation of Allegoria. In the spirit of dumpster diving, I hadn’t even bothered watching a trailer for the film. All I knew about the film was that it was released on the Shudder streaming service, a safe haven for worthwhile horror films like Lucky, Random Acts of Violence, and The Boy Behind the Door, to name a few.
The opening credits offer personality, abrasive yet stylish. I always like it when a film doesn’t skimp out on some kind of first impression. Scout Compton is in this film. She’s the actress who played Laurie Strode in Rob Zombie’s Halloween duology. I haven’t seen her in a while.
The film begins by introduces us to a theater coach who’s more than a little theatrical. He monologues for a times, the amount of spit I watched him divulge is only matched by his spewing of self-indulgent garble at his students.
His speech carries a level of self-seriousness that nearly cycles back and becomes campy as a result – he asks for them to him their monster, to allow the hot breath of a thousand rapists and murderers to embody them. Everything changes when he calls upon a woman from amongst his onlookers and asks her to take the stage.
Something I hadn’t known about Allegoria prior, and something that also isn’t readily apparent in a lot of the descriptions I’d read about the film, is that it isn’t a story in the conventional sense. Instead, it is an anthology of sorts – a series of horror short stories with a theme around art. The tortured artist gone mad shtick has been done to death but is one I approached with an open mind.
Although I made comments in jest about the first segment, I didn’t mind it overall. The cinematography is of a decent production and the acting itself, although pretentious, was amicable and even gripping in its execution. By the end, it was a modest short film, a straightforward concept with a predictable, but enjoyable aftermath. The monologuing may have gone a little longer than it needed, but, in the end, it feels like a basic horror flash fiction brought to life on the screen, and I don’t mind that at all.
The second segment is okay. The basic premise is that it is a short horror segment about a painter, and I don’t feel the need to break it down any more than that. This is a segment I think you can likely predict early on. And, I don’t mean that you can predict the segment early into watching it, I mean that, in an anthology about artists, I bet you would predict this story is included. This is because you’ve read this story before. You’ve watched films with this story already. Hell, you’ve even played videogames with this story in it. This a story you already know the beginning, middle, and conclusion of. As a short film, it doesn’t offer anything new to the concept and doesn’t head anywhere you wouldn’t expect. It just is, take it or leave it. But, I will say the creature that appears in this is a neat visual.
This film was directed by a director who goes by the name Spider One. As it turns out, he is the younger brother of Rob Zombie (which makes me wonder if he may’ve met Scout Compton through him, which I think’s a neat, little tidbit), and more notably, is the lead-singer of Powerman 5000. I dug deeper, what I had assumed was a small-time, indie rock-band was actually fairly successful, you might know them! I know I have heard their song When Worlds Collide about a million times in my life from playing WWE: SmackDown vs. RAW as a kid. When I went to look at his directorial credits on IMDB, I found out that Allegoria is actually his feature length debut – but that comes with an asterisk. I noticed at least one of the short films from Allegoria was filmed in 2020, so this is actually less a single film and more like a compilation of prior works from him.
As a fan of short films, I am absolutely all for it. All Hallows’ Eve was the film that introduced me to Damien Leone, the director who went onto direct Terrifier, and I know The Mortuary Collection made me excited to see what was instore for Ryan Spindell. At the same time, when you have a compilation of otherwise unrelated short films, it can sometimes make the whole feel disjointed or uneven. This especially happens when you try to make a wraparound narrative that connects them all. Allegoria doesn’t do that. Instead, it merely heads from one short film to the next, with only a black screen and a pause in-between. Personally, as I find wraparounds often feel forced or unnecessary, I’m in favor of that as well.
The third segment is an interesting idea and an okay execution. Basically, an author births a slasher villain into existence through his writings and the villain stops by to make a few edits to the draft. It isn’t anything to go out of your way for, but, like the rest of them, it isn’t anything egregious or bad.
The fourth segment is the one with Scout Compton. I’ve singled her out a couple times now, which is solely based on her being the only actor I recognize amongst them all, so you might argue this is the segment I was looking forward to. During the segment, the characters make a small remark about a film they saw in the theaters, making a clear direct reference to the third segment’s villain, which I thought was a nice touch. Incidentally, it is my favorite amongst the ones we’ve seen. In this segment, a woman and a man meet in the man’s apartment after a night out, and, well, really, there isn’t a way to describe this one without spoiling it. Like the rest of them, it isn’t anything we haven’t already seen in some way, somewhere else. The outcome is easy to predict, and it can be argued that, even at only about ten minutes, the dialogue drags a little longer than it should, but returning to the comparison I made early about a basic horror flash fiction brought to life, I enjoyed it. It has a memorable, satisfying payoff.
The fifth and final segment is, in a lot of ways, the lynchpin that brings all the stories together into a more cohesive, final product. Whereas I said earlier several of the short films were filmed separately and then, retroactively, grouped together, that doesn’t adequately describe Allegoria. This short film effectively loops back around and connects with both the first and second segment, albeit in rather superficial ways. The segment is the longest amongst the series and is, honestly, my least favorite amongst them. The story is all about a special string of keys that can bring about a certain, drastic reaction. The dialogue is long-winded and largely uninteresting, one of the characters sings a song about how if she was an insect, she’d be a spider, ignoring that spiders are arachnids, not insect, which is a useless nitpick, but I couldn’t leave it. Like the whole lot of them, the outcome of events are largely predictable and rather familiar, the only difference though is that it feels more drawn out and like it doubles-down on the worst qualities of each of them – that being too much dialogue, a predictable story, and coming off a wee bit too pretentious.
As far as Allegoria is concerned altogether as an anthology film – it’s okay. Spider One is satisfactory as a director and the acting, execution, and all that, is satisfactory, but mostly not very gripping or unique. The best way I could describe it is to say – think of a great anthology film series and think of each great story of that anthology, usually every one of them has at least one short film that feels passable, but unnoteworthy. Like a stocking stuffer on Christmas morning, they’re appreciated, but there is a reason they’re in the stocking and not under the tree, so to speak. All of Allegoria’s stories feel like that. None of them are outright bad, but none of them standout in a way that’ll make you revisit the film or remember it. They’re a series of appetizers, which ultimately, could be filling, aren’t something I’d particularly recommend.