26th October 2021

Grimmfest 2021: The Spore

Jason Fox reviews D.M Cunningham’s new post pandemic thriller
Grimmfest 2021: The Spore
Photo: The Spore, courtesy of Grimmfest

Written by Jason Fox.

It seems unsurprising that a film like The Spore came out recently. As an obvious response to the Covid-19 pandemic, it focuses on a world ravaged by a deadly fungal infection that takes over the human body and turns people into a zombie state.

This film certainly has its moments. Director D.M. Cunningham brings a visual flair that allows for some truly striking, and shocking, imagery. Unfortunately, this film takes itself far too seriously for what it is trying to be. It is hampered by weak characterisation and unambitious storytelling that doesn’t go anywhere, preventing it from being anything more than just a forgettable slasher. 

The Spore trailer

The most impressive part of this film is definitely the visual aspect. It pays visual homage to a number of body horror films, most notably The Thing, but is so lacking in character that it fails to have any real originality. Cunningham clearly knows how to use colour and it contributes to quite a vivid aesthetic. This makes the use of practical effects all the more impressive.

For something that starts off like a relatively standard zombie movie, the stunning practical effects give you a real sense of the impact of this infection on the human body, and by extension, the psyche. There are some truly horrible moments where people realise their inevitable death as they are slowly consumed by the fungus. The film would be far more interesting if it had focused more on this, and less on trying to emulate other, better slasher films.

Poor dialogue alienates the audience. The characters feel one dimensional and painfully rehearsed. For a film that tries to show, in part at least, the human impact of this plague, it is unable to present people in a way that feels believable. The Spore resorts to generic clichés to cover these cracks. The result is something quite forgettable and a bit disappointing. It exists within an apocalyptic tradition of horror films but does nothing new to differentiate itself from that tradition. 

Despite at times posing some interesting questions, The Spore ultimately sets up more than it can deliver on. The nucleus of a good film is certainly there but its unambitious cliches make it a mediocre watch at best.


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