Allen Anders – Live at the Comedy Castle – circa 1987 (2018) [Final Girls Berlin Film Festival]

“A Real Scream” Shorts Block

Laura Moss’s “Allen Anders…” is a beautifully bizarre bit of experimental horror that I kind of loved when all was said and done. Mimicking an actual worn out VHS tape, we’re subjected to a 1987 stand up routine of a young comedian named Allen Anders performing at the Comedy Castle. Anders looks worn, exhausted and covered in sweat while an agreeable audience looks on. While Allen is never exactly hysterical it never really matters as the audience responds to just about everything he says with nods and laughs. When he’s done with his skit, he’s called up on stage once again to repeat the very same routine.

Much of “Allen Anders” is left up to interpretation, and I had a great time imagining what the message was behind Moss’ nightmarish found footage film. Maybe Allen is a young man who committed a heinous crime and is in a personal hell where he has to perform the same routine over and over for all of time. Maybe the whole tape is indicative of the pit falls of comedy and how sometimes it can feel like we’re in a monotonous loop with no rewards or forward progress. Maybe it’s a look in to the psyche of an aspiring comedian stuck in his own nightmarish scenario.

The way Moss directs the film along with the added effects of the film resembling a genuinely worn out VHS recording, we can never quite be sure. What with the pauses and beats from character Allen, along with the nuanced, brilliant performance by Tony Grayson, I’m prone to believe the first scenario when all is said and done. No matter, “Allen Anders…” is a gem of a short film and I highly recommend for festival viewers looking for something completely out of the ordinary.

The Final Girls Berlin Film Festival runs every year from January 31st to February 3rd.