Film Review: The Spore (2021)

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Kevin Nickelson 03/15/2022 Film Reviews


The lives of ten strangers intersect through a terrifying chain of events as a mutating fungus begins to spread through a small town wiping out everyone that comes into contact with it.


The Spore seems ever like the cinematic equivalent of the old Murphy’s Law axiom “If it looks or sounds too good to be true it probably is.” An observant, intelligent person would not fall for it at their local used car dealership and should not here. The film, from director D.M. Cunningham, Night Prowler Video and Talk Global Media, tries to show a chiller that is homage to that formula of the mysterious parasite decimating the countryside, turning folks into mutated beasts that attack others. The similarities being drawn to George Romero’s zombie classics and even a handful of alien invasion opuses that have dotted the celluloid scape over the years.

There are some wonderfully gruesome sfx and makeup sequences that feel more in line with a bigger budgeted major release. Sadly, these shots and many lush exteriors in Michigan are mired within a thinly-scripted plot that makes little narrative sense and offers some truly stupid characters in the desperate hope that we somehow care for their plight. They should be so lucky. It’s as if the film’s entire budget was drained on the practical blood, gore and goo and, just the day before shooting, someone approaches the director with the question “do you think we need something of a script to link these sequences together? Just spit-balling here.” The director then shouts out to the cast and crew “A hundred bucks to anyone who can come up with a script over the 30 minute lunch break!” In all seriousness, it does have the look of a demo practical effects reel that was turned into a feature of its own through last-minute change of plans.

The movie is structured to follow separate stories of disparate people dealing with their own plight in the nightmare and have the lives of some of them intertwine at the finale. The problem is that there is little to no backstory on any one of the characters to flesh them out even in the slightest, and even less exposition of how the fungus or parasite came to even be. What we are left with is character reactions and actions to present events and those creative visuals to propel us along. Further hampering things are the sheer stupidity in both the responses and the fight or flight decisions of the players. There are moments where the actors are shown in a safe area and have no logical motivation to go out into the creature’s lair other than for simple plot contrivance. There even appears to be a moment where a couple are shown have to walk past a near-lifeless corpse (that is mutating into a beast) and you could see, on closeup of the pair’s feet that they are slow walking in purposeful expectation of the proverbial sudden extension of a monstrous hand or talon.

In another section, a heroine comes face to face with a human victim who is aware she is turning into one of the monsters. The ill-fated person begs the lady to kill her (another convenient oddity is that the camera picks up, in clear site, on the floor of the building a gas can and flares right next to each other. Hmmm) and she cannot, exploding in a crying mental meltdown at first. She exits the building, finds a shotgun (One would think that fire might be better to destroy the being but ok) and returns to the altered mutation to try again. Nope. Still can’t do it. More tears and she puts the gun in the hands of the victim to kill itself. Again, this is only to have the blood and goo explosion behind the girl as she walks away so that she can be infected by the ooze.

Credit to cinematographer Keith Golinski for some truly stunning outdoor shooting in an around rural Lowell and other areas of West Michigan. This, alone, helps the picture to belie its roots as low budget project. Credit also to Cunningham for nicely staging some of the action set-pieces to help create a lively piece of entertainment even if it is nonsensical. If you are fan of this particular genre, it may not be possible to encourage you to avoid this one. However, if you are looking to purchase this cinema car, I do implore you to look under the hood to see if there is, indeed, an engine and it works.


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