Reality is bent and broken in Alan Moore’s debut film ‘The Show’

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The ‘dream ghouls’ of Northampton gather for a musical number. (Photo courtesy of Protagonist Pictures)
By Tim Nacey

Imagine if “Twin Peaks” and “Hot Fuzz” had a baby that spent a lot of time with “The Naked Gun.”

That’s the most concise way I can think to describe Alan Moore’s debut screenplay “The Show.” In all honesty, though, that hardly scratches the surface of this bizarre but fascinating film.

The plot is simple: a mysterious man named Fletcher Dennis — or is it Steve Lipman? Or Robert Mitchum? — rolls into the English city of Northampton, searching for a necklace with a dark past. When the necklace owner turns up dead, Dennis finds himself trapped in a surreal, nightmarish landscape as he tries to unravel this mystery.

There’s more to the plot, but I’ll stop there.

Alan Moore, who is primarily known for his work in the comic book space, and director Mitch Jenkins have fun with reality in this film.

While it’s often amusing, there’s a feeling of unease that permeates even the most mundane scenes. Considering how many dream sequences there are, I found myself questioning what is and isn’t real, eventually giving in and enjoying the ride.

Overall, I found it difficult to nail down how I feel about this movie.

On one hand, this is one of the most striking films I’ve seen in a while. Every environment and character that Dennis encountered — including, but not limited to vampires, voodoo gangsters and an Adolf Hitler-themed EDM artist named Herbert Sherbert — left me with questions and hungry to spend more time in this town.

On the other hand, the plot almost immediately fell by the wayside for me. There’s a moment in the middle of the film where Dennis and Faith, the Northampton woman he’s been working with, discuss the origin story of the necklace and it went in one of my ears and out the other. I was so spellbound by the tone, setting and visuals that I just forgot to pay enough attention.

Part of the blame for that lies with me, but parts of this film reminded me of J.K. Rowling’s “Fantastic Beasts,” a pair of movies that also marked a writer’s screen debut transitioning from another medium.

Moore’s priorities are very comic book-ish. While that makes for an absolutely beautiful visual experience, the dialogue and plot, which are by no means bad, come off as comparatively sparse.

“The Show” is not currently available but is slated for a home video and streaming release at some undisclosed point in the near future. When it finally sees a wide U.S. release, I would highly recommend that fans of dark humor, mystery and general weirdness check it out.

Despite the lack of balance between visual flair and plot, “The Show” is a wild ride and I’ll be eagerly awaiting Alan Moore’s next film.

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