Anthologies are hard to judge. They are a collection of stories, and by that nature, they already have something against them. The fact that the entire film will lack cohesion and, more often than not also coherence. Some stories will definitely feel stronger than others, and because of that, the ones that are just not that strong will end up feeling like filler or a waste of time. AlKhallat+ is a new Netflix anthology film that presents us with four different stories about life and death in the Arab world.
AlKhallat+ is a film directed by Fahad Alammari. The film is an anthology that tries to place all of its stories under a thematic umbrella. The theme in question is deception. All four stories share this thematic core, and they go from small deceptions to ones that could put other people’s lives in danger. The film stars Mohammed Aldokhei, Ibraheem Alkhairallah, Abdulaziz Alshehri, Sohayb Godus, and Ziyad Alamri. The film contains four stories of about thirty minutes in length each.
As we said before, creating an anthology film that feels consistent and coherent is a hard thing to do. It often happens that some stories are just not as good as the rest, and many members of the audience would love to stay with the characters in one story over another. The film also needs to do a reset, and on this occasion, it needs to rest four times, every time a new story takes over. Alkhallat+ does achieve a sense of consistency, but not in the way you expect.
You see, while the movie is indeed cohesive and consistent with its thematic framework, the quality of the stories leaves much to be desired. The setup for each of the stories is quite good. All the stories are filled with a sense of humor, and at least three of them could be considered a bit of a comedy. However, while the setups are interesting and the start of each story seems promising, the stories’ endings feel like they have absolutely no punch whatsoever.
Which is a shame because endings might be some of the most important moments in a story. Audiences remember endings more than anything else. Bad endings are discussed for decades, and for example, we are still talking about how many endings the Return of the King had. Endings serve as the last thing the audiences take with them when they finish watching a movie or reading a book. Each of the endings in the movie feels like the writers just didn’t know how to match the energy of those moments with the one that they used to establish the story in the first place.
So, it is the writing that brings things down in this movie. It is the one thing that costs the least than anything, but it is also the most difficult to do correctly. The movie does better in other aspects of the film. The performances might be the strongest element. Each of the actors really manages to hit the tone as their stories go forward. So, most of them have great energy, and they come off as genuine even when the tension rises and the stakes become greater than ever before.
The comedy bits are also quite fun, and they might make you chuckle here and there, but the comedy seems very tame in comparison to what is done in the rest of the world. It might be that the values of the culture don’t allow for the comedy to be sharper than it is, but either way, it is left in the dust and feels very childlike at moments. Comedy is seen differently in every part of the world. However, it could be said that you must really need to understand the culture the movie presents to get the most out of the jokes. They might not translate as well to an international audience.
In terms of visuals, the movie does as much as it can with the budget it has. There are some entertaining shots here and there, but overall, most of the visual design of the film feels generic. It is very interesting to see the Arab world through these lenses, but it still feels like it would have been nice to see something more attractive than just streets and buildings. Either way, the filmmaking is efficient, and the movie looks and sounds good enough. Maybe, the last story feels the most as it is affected by the budget the film is working with, but it is something you can let pass while watching.
In the end, Alkhallat+ serves as a nice anthology film that explores one very simple but important theme and leaves us with a lesson. The performances are fine, and the visual design of the movie is good enough to be considered a movie, not something less than that. However, the writing brings things down but, creates interesting setups, but never gives us the satisfactory endings that we crave. If you are looking for an anthology film that really takes everything into consideration, and leaves us with strong endings, then Wild Tales is a much better option.