Panic Fest: Spider One makes his feature debut with horror anthology Allegoria
The Powerman 5000 frontman’s film amuses and mystifies.
[Panic Fest is KC’s premiere horror and science fiction film festival. Celebrating its 10th year, here is our full coverage of films making an appearance.]
I’m a sucker for a good horror anthology. That’s especially true if it’s all helmed by a single, sure directorial hand (see George Romero’s Creepshow), and even more so if it’s not really an anthology at all, but rather a series of (even loosely) interwoven stories that make up a greater whole (i.e., Trick ‘R Treat).
I didn’t know that’s what I was getting into when I sat down for the world premiere of Allegoria at Panic Fest. I knew it was a quintet of tales about artists of various stripes (painter, sculptor, screenwriter, musician, actor) and that it was written and directed by Spider One, frontman of the rock band Powerman 5000, and younger brother of Rob Zombie.
What I learned from the brief introduction Spider gave before the film was that it was shot with a miniscule crew in only six days. Not exactly confidence-building.
The various segments that make up Allegoria—which range in individual length to suit the needs of their story—are loosely bound together by threads linking characters and their situations. The painter protagonist of one segment receives a phone call from the actress protagonist of another. The painter sells artwork to the screenwriter lead of the third segment.
What really ties the picture up, however, are the themes interwoven throughout.
As the title suggests, each segment is an allegory of sorts about the relationship between artists and their art. This subject could easily become pretentious in other hands, but here it remains winning rather than whiny.
There’s always something a little self-deprecating in this portrayal; something a little bit tongue-in-cheek, a characteristic that clearly bled in from Spider One, who had a similar demeanor during the Q&A that followed the film.
The result is a convivial mix of crowd-pleasing and thoughtful. Allegoria never takes itself too seriously, but also never makes the mistake of letting its punchlines puncture its mystique. While the movie is often funny, it’s never jokey. It truly has something to say about the relationship between artist and muse, artist and commerce, artist and art, artist and audience.
Of course, the segments vary in enjoyability, and the crowd favorites weren’t always the ones I liked the most. However, every segment knows exactly how long to stick around without wearing out its welcome.
It’s also got possibly the best movie monster of 2022 so far; no mean feat for a picture shot on a shoestring, in a week, mired in the limitations of the pandemic. You’ll know the monster when you see it, but in case you need clarification: it’s in the segment about the painter.
After the show, Joe Lynch led a Q&A with Spider One and fellow polymath Krsy Fox, who served as Allegoria’s producer, editor, actor, composer and more. Together, the two presented a funny, compelling, and thoughtful discussion about the film’s origins and the limitations (and advantages) of shooting during the pandemic, a tone that reflects the feel of the film itself.
Allegoria isn’t currently planning a lot more festival play, but has been picked up by Shudder to launch as an exclusive later this year. I can’t wait for more people to get a chance to see it. Oh, and when you do, stay after the credits.
As Spider put it before the movie started, “Captain America does show up…”