Something deadly has begun in the woods as an infectious spore mutates from ‘Patient Zero’ to begin an alarming spread. People are its food source as well as reproduction method, giving it plenty of chances to evolve even further, and there doesn’t appear to be any way to stop it.
The structure of The Spore is definitely a mixed bag. It’s pretty light on plot and script, with the acting so uneven it doesn’t help the incoherent feel, but this does enable the film to move into more unrestrained territory, serving an exploration of an intriguing scenario. It’s so disconnected as to practically resemble an anthology, disjointed segments not connecting sufficiently to be a more cohesive sequence. Sometimes, it doesn’t even feel like a narrative is underpinning the plot, it is all purely just worldbuilding.
Regardless, The Spore provides a rare opportunity to observe an infectious outbreak in progress, supplemented with an interestingly comprehensive timeline. It even manages a few effective connections across these disparate stories and although these don’t unify the whole film into a more cohesive whole, it will reward viewers attentive to minute background details.
When it comes to what the titular spore is, and what it does to people, there’s a solidly terrifying horror concept here. The body horror mostly delivers on this concept in an entertainingly gross way, too. The full life cycle of the spore is disgusting as well as being a respectable threat, even among the infectious outbreak subgenre; from the initial phase of visceral fluid contact, to a zombie-like infection stage, and then a strange mutations all leading up to something even worse.
However, there is an unfortunate point where ambition exceeds budget. The final stages, which was intended to be an alarming endgame for any hope of survival, looks ridiculous on camera, clearly a consequence of the budget limitations. They evidently needed additional finances and resources to realise such a high concept – the effects inevitably disappointing any audience from a laughably lackluster execution.
Unconventionally structured, The Spore has found some interesting ways to deliver information to the audience (i.e. exposition is shared with radio broadcasts during low-key action sequences, tedious if delivered without any distractions). It risks telling far more than showing, but endeavours to blends these two in a valiant attempt of balance. For some, this unconventional vision to detail the scenario may fall flat. For others, though, the potential of what is being attempted will shine through.
The Spore doesn’t elevate itself beyond what is fundamentally a twist on the zombie genre, but it does enough to get ahead of the direct-to-streaming peers it sits among for horror fans craving more ahead of The Last of Us TV series, which is finally getting a high budget release, to show off the fungal apocalypse. What is on offer here is something of a curiosity because of how it is constructed, more a showcase conceptually than an actual feature film. It’s hard to say it always succeeds, but there’s value in what it attempts, and people who enjoy either body horror or infectious outbreak movies should find some novelty here.
We watched The Spore as part of our Grimmfest coverage.
Luke Greensmith is an Editor at the Grimoire of Horror and an active folklorist as well as working in film across a few roles. While this can cover quite a wide range of things, he’s a dedicated horror fan at heart and pretty involved with horror communities both online and local to him. You can find their folklore work on the Ghost Story Guys Podcast, their own LukeLore podcast, and accompanying the artist Wanda Fraser’s Dark Arts series as well as on the Grimoire of Horror itself.