Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

The last time we saw director Adam Green and actor Joel Moore together was in the crazed slasher flick ‘Hatchet’ which I personally thought was a pretty darned entertaining movie. So when this movie ‘Spiral’ comes around with Green and Moore serving as co-directors I was curious to see what they would cook up this time. Instead of going with a gore filled hyper speed horror fest as we had with ‘Hatchet’, this time around we have a slow moving psychological thriller of sorts in ‘Spiral, and though I enjoyed the pure carnage offered in ‘Hatchet’ more, ‘Spiral’ is still a picture with some qualities that definitely rank a recommendation.

In the middle of the night Mason (Moore) has done something really bad, or at least he thinks he has. He calls the one person on the planet who has anything to do with him in his lone friend Berkeley (Zachary Levi) to alert him to his screw up. Zachary tells Mason to calm down, take a hit on his inhaler, go to bed and try like hell not to wake him up at 4 in the morning ever again. Mason complies though he is still haunted by something in his bathroom and visions of a pretty woman in a waitress uniform. Turns out that Mason works for Berkeley at a telemarketing firm and through their relationship we will learn that the womanizing, fast talking Berkeley has carried the borderline schizophrenic, nervous, shy and all around weird Mason throughout most of their lives due to a tragedy which has the two linked together. A tragedy that is sketched around and never completely spoken about. The repressed Mason happens to be a gifted canvas artist and it is while thumbing through some of his sketches, he catches the eye of the pretty and effervescent Amber (Amber Tamblyn) who also works at the firm and for whatever reason takes a rather intense liking to the obviously damaged Mason.

As Mason and Amber’s platonic friendship grows, Amber agrees to become Mason’s next subject as she poses for a number of portraits based on sketches in his sketch book, sketches that he allows no one to see before hand. Despite a few psychological issues such as Mason’s unnatural fear of elves and the fact that he often vacates reality from time to time, Amber seems to truly have some real affection for the dude, and in turn the majority of Mason’s issues seem to be setting themselves to the side as his professional and his personal lives are ironing themselves out, though Berkeley still has his doubts. Things are going so well for our hero Mason that we are beginning to think that maybe there is a happy ending for our screwed up schizo. As if. There is one more sketch that has to be done you see, the sketch that Mason protects the most, and the sketch that Amber wants to see the most. I’m guessing if things work out with Amber, there will be no need for Mason to paint that last sketch, but if things start to fall apart between the pair, well… let’s just say it would probably be in Amber’s best interest to keep that lunatic happy.

I gotta hand it to Zachary Levi. I don’t watch much TV, but I have stumbled upon his show ‘Chuck’ on an occasion or two and really had no idea that this was same guy who headlines that show as the nervous geeky Big Box store employee. Looks like we have an actor on our hands. There is one thing that you need to accept, I believe, to find some enjoyment is ‘Spiral’, with this one thing being that you have to buy into the fact that the this pretty, albeit quirky woman would actually be attracted to Joel Moore’s Mason who doesn’t bring an awful lot to the table when it comes to the stuff that is generally thought of as being attractive to women. To that end Amber Tamblyn injects enough oddness and wide eyed naiveté into her character of Amber that she’s able to convince you fairly easily that her character would have no problem falling for the fractured artist. Now as it turns out, there are any number of beautiful women that Mason has painted which stretch one’s ability to believe he could have convinced all of them get buck ass naked for a portrait, but I’m thinking that simply being an artist has a lot cache to it, to the point I wish like hell I knew how to draw.

The movie itself is an interesting psychological study on the pathos of Mason, though Joel Moore might go a little overboard with his characters various machinations and nervous tics. It is slow moving, particularly as it starts out, but the rather leisurely pace does give more depth to the films characters which is what this film is relying on the most. A lot of the film is open ended in that there are things that are merely hinted at and not shown. This is an effective method for the most part as it is not necessary for a filmmaker to lay out every little detail for my simple brain but there were a couple of things that I think the film could have benefited from with little more exposition such as a more detailed description of the friendship between Mason and Berkeley. It is obvious that Berkeley is very protective of Mason almost to the point as if he feels he is his personal responsibility and I would have liked to have known fully why this is as opposed to the sketchy delivery we were given. But then sketches were kind of what this movie was about anyway so there you go.

‘Spiral’ is a very interesting if not somewhat of a plodding psychological drama highlighted by a fine performance by Zachary Levi and a completely charming turn by Amber Tamblyn, and based on this alone certainly warrants a look-see.

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