Review: Spiral, 2008

For years, I planned to go to film school. While working on coming up with the money, I watched a lot of films in the interest of research. For about 6 months of that time, I reviewed films. They were all done on a strictly volunteer basis as time allowed (each review took up to 12 hours due to careful note taking and editing). Since then, those reviews have gathered dust in the corners of the internet. While I finish setting up the first round of interviews, I’ll be digging out a few.

Spiral was release in a very small number of cities and came out on DVD the following week. I saw it within a month of its release and absolutely loved it. I’ve been trying, rather unsuccessfully, to convince everyone I know to watch it ever since.

Here is the review I wrote in March 2008:


Spiral is the story of Mason, played by co-director, co-writer, producer Joel David Moore from Hatchet. Mason is a telemarketer, who likes to paint mysterious women, and consumes nothing but peanut butter sandwiches, apples and milk. (Just a warning, before viewing, you may want to be sure to have these items in the house in case you have a sudden craving. Or maybe that’s just me?) Mason’s life is a mess; he’s messing up at work, having panic attacks that end in 3am phone calls, and freaky visions of some waitress. Mason is like a child in a man’s body, awkward, scared; he needs a lot of help that he unfortunately isn’t getting. Mason’s only “friend” is Berkeley, played by producer Zachary Levi, who I hear has a show called Chuck but I’ve never seen it. Berkeley doesn’t so much help Mason, as treat him like crap, then tries to justify it to himself and others by saying that he’s being “honest”. I think he’s said it enough times that he actually believes it, either that or he doesn’t care, because he treats everyone the same way. One day, Mason meets a woman named Amber, played by Amber Tamblyn of Joan of Arcadia and more recently a great Hallmark movie, The Russell Girl. Amber is happy, bubbly, outspoken, and an open book. She’s the exact opposite of Mason and for a while, their relationship seems to work. Mason decides to paint her; he starts to seem happy, borderline normal. But, Amber knows there’s something in his past, other women he’s painted but won’t talk about and the harder she pushes the more he pulls away.

After seeing co-director Adam Green’s film, Hatchet, back in December I wasn’t sure I was ready for the 180 into Spiral. I knew this film was going to be different, because for one thing, Spiral wasn’t written by Green. This film is Joel David Moore’s first as a writer/director but you have to wonder how the director of Hatchet is going to make this film work. I don’t know how they did it but Green and Moore did an incredible job, I love this film. It reminds me of Psycho (the original not the piece of crap 1998 remake), the Sixth Sense, and maybe even a little 1408. Spiral already seems like a classic, with a great storyline, amazing jazz score (I’m not even into jazz) [2011 edit-I like jazz now!], great camera work (even the hand-held at the end which makes you just the right amount of nauseous) and memorable performances. I’m not saying that all fans of Hatchet will like this film because I know many of them won’t, Spiral isn’t hardcore horror and it doesn’t claim to be. Spiral is much more psychological, character and relationship driven. But if you like mystery and suspense, with a great twist ending, see this film, you won’t regret it. My only wish for Spiral is that it could see a wider audience because the film and filmmakers deserve it.

Spiral is available on Netflix Instant.

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