Anthology horror films are so full of creepy goodness! Moral tales. Freaky through lines. Peculiar and off-putting horror hosts and narrators. They give us everything we desire in spooky bite-sized chunks. Until they don’t.
Starting with the German horror anthology Uncanny Stories (AKA Unheimliche Geschichten) from over 100 years ago (!?!?) horror anthologies have graced the screen with scares, frights, and tall tales that make us stop and think. They’re provocative with a point. There’s a message to be delivered. By beating the audience over the head five times, as opposed to once, there’s a much better chance that we’ll pick up what the director is selling.
Allegoria is the recent offering from Shudder and we’re here to tell you horror hounds that it just ain’t great. By focusing around various arts (music, acting, sculpture, and writing), Allegoria has promise for some grand cultural examination of our collective love for the arts. Unfortunately, it neither scares, not does it provoke any real societal reflection.
Allegoria does provide nice little vignettes and it comes in at just over an hour — which in our book is pretty darn cool — but there’s just no there there. It’s biggest malady is that there’s no narrator. No Crypt Keeper. No story teller. No one to explain the why the arts have been chosen as a cautionary tale for horror viewers.
The film really lacks a connective tissue. Some of the stories, in particular the Whistler, show promise and the potential for further development. There’s definitely an idea or two kicking around in its one hour and nine minute run time, but none of the segments seem to fit together.
Frankly, after having watched Allegoria it’s entirely unclear what the film’s position on the arts actually is. Is art good? Is it bad? Pretentious and cloying. Beautiful and celebratory? Who knows? Allegoria doesn’t.
The scares are middling as are the performances. There’s some horror standouts like Rob Zombie Halloween actress Scout Taylor-Compton, but otherwise Allegoria is filled with so/so performances that never really amount to any scares or dread in the art community.
What Allegoria does have going for it is an awesome poster and a b-grade slasher film within a film titled, Big Baby. If we had our druthers director Spider One — founder of the nu-metal rock outfit Powerman 5000 and younger brother of a certain Mr. Rob Zombie — would have just made a feature length of Big Baby and left Allegoria on the cutting room floor.
Much like his big brother, Spider One definitely has a love for the genre. That much is clear. He’s got an eye for the right horror elements, but we’ll just assume anthologies ain’t his bag. Here’s to hoping the Spider One gives further consideration to a full length Big Baby feature film!
Allegoria is likely Rated R and currently streaming on Shudder.