Dir. Spider One (2022)
The darker side of artistry is explored in this anthology, where obsession begets monstrosity.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Hey ya’ll, Rob Zombie’s brother can make movies too! I’ve always been a big fan of Powerman 5000, even snuck into a music festival that they played at one time. 90’s rock and alternative music hit the sweet spot for me and was filled with the type of creativity that the pop of the 80’s eschewed for marketability and magazine covers. Rock has always been against the grain, a tool to criticize the powers that be and the intrinsic injustice in the world. Now that some of those musicians have turned their attention to the world of film, we are getting some truly interesting works of fiction from artists like Rob Zombie, RZA from Wu Tang Clan, and, uh, Fred Durst. This is yet another example, with Spider One taking the helm for his first feature film.
There’s a lot of talent behind the camera in this one. It’s a very well-made film, with lots of visual appeal and a compelling compendium of stories. The acting is excellent for the most part, with each part being played both competently and interestingly by the actors involved. The ideas behind the stories are fascinating as someone who finds art and the artists behind them incredibly intriguing. The stories are all tied in well, with bits and pieces carrying from one story to the next. This is often poorly done in anthology films, which tend to beat its audience over the head with transitional threads. Spider avoids this by sprinkling tidbits throughout, making each film fun to pick up on all of the little relational pieces. There’s also some really cool makeup and visual effects as well, delivering some icky moments worth watching.
Look behind you!
There is monstrosity in art, a fact upon which this film focuses. Art comes from a dark place more often than not, and is used to channel the inner demons of its practitioners into creating something that expresses those feelings to the outside world. I would argue that any artist that has never stood in front of a mirror and called themselves a fraud is not, in actuality, an artist. While there is a bit of pretension involved with the film that treats art as perhaps more dark and dangerous than it really is, the darkness and intensity actually present in any artistic venture is worth commenting upon, and who better to do so than the artist himself?
At just over an hour long, this is an anthology with some teeth that doesn’t take much time out of your day. Strikingly gruesome visuals underscore the indie-like messaging, the exploration of art as inner demon. It’s fast-paced, perhaps even too much so, as some of these stories would’ve been interesting to see stretched out a little longer. Unfortunately, many of the stories within have very little resolution, and feel more like a compilation of ideas than a coherent narrative. I’ve seen stories like this thousands of times, where the “surprise” ending cuts to black before the batshit finale. This film chooses to leave that finale to the imagination more often than not, as each short cuts off too quickly for resolution (except for the one with Scout Taylor-Compton and the final short, which are probably the best of the bunch as narrative stories.) It’s not often that I see a film with such a short runtime that I wished was much longer, and this film really could’ve used another 30 minutes or so to devote an extra 5-6 minutes or so to each story and given them a satisfying resolution.
Thankfully, there is enough gruesomeness and cool concepts to make the film worth watching. There are some truly horrific ideas in place here, something that you can tell came from the mind of an artist. I can appreciate that for what it is without letting the storytelling shortcomings ruin the film. The last short, about a piece of music that can cause a possession-like experience, is actually kinda terrifying, and is executed extremely well. Krsy Fox is terrifying, and her performance practically makes the movie and is worth watching for her scenes alone. That last short also feels like a fully fleshed-out idea, and is indicative about what Spider One is capable of producing. While it would’ve been nice if the entire film had consisted of shorts like this one, if you’ve spent any time in the world of anthology films, you know that one really good one is more than you can expect from most.
Thriller! Thriller night!
Who this movie is for: Modern horror fans, Anthology movie lovers, Perfectionist artists
Bottom line: There’s a lot to love here, and it’s a really well-made film. The last two shorts are really good, and there are some fantastic visuals sprinkled throughout the film. Most of the shorts end too quickly, however, and those lackluster pieces prevent the film from truly exceeding expectations. The talent is there, though, and it bodes well for future efforts by director Spider One. The man is clearly talented, and once he gets his feet a bit more wet in the filmmaking scene, I truly think we could see some great things in the future. There’s also a post-credits scene as well. Make sure you don’t miss that one if you watch the film.