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Jamie Thornton [Celluloid 02.17.08] movie news thriller drama

Year: 2007
Release date: Feb. 19th (DVD)
Director: Adam Green & Joel Moore
Writer: Jeremy Danial Boreing & Jorel Moore
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Amazon link: DVD for $16.99
Review by: Jamie Thornton (via JT)
Rating: 4 out of 10

Spiral, billed as a psychological thriller, pits a beautiful young woman, Amber, against Mason, a socially inept auto insurance salesman who likes to paint and listen to jazz music. Spiral had a great trailer and opening scene, yet it failed to deliver on almost all levels (one exception is the excellent cinematography). For a character driven film to work, one needs to care about the characters. For a psychological thriller to work, one needs to care about what happens to the characters. I never felt a moment of sympathy for any of the three main characters and began hoping halfway through that the movie would kill them all off in the end.

Mason’s neurotic mannerisms and psychotic tendencies are never explained. It's a lot of nightmares, teeth grinding, face scrunching and asthma attacks without explanation. Other than a visit to the cemetery where it’s revealed that Mason’s father probably killed his mother, we don’t get much more explanation as to why Mason is the way he is.

Berkeley, Mason’s too-cool boss, is supposed to be Mason’s only friend, but their relationship does not feel plausible. Amber is just annoying. She talks too loud for too long and treats Mason too much like a child. He gives her no reason to believe he’s sane, or anything other than a weird and dysfunctional individual. Yet we’re supposed to believe she doesn’t sense he’s really a psycho and somehow romance between them is inevitable!

Many moments made me cringe, especially when Mason’s neurotic freak-outs somehow make Amber more attracted to him. This was the final straw. Maybe some people would feel worried as the two of them grow closer – oh no, watch out beautiful young woman! I just rolled my eyes. Sorry, movies with stupid women placing themselves in incredibly stupid situations became a cliché a long time ago. She’s asking to get killed, and about thirty minutes into the film I was rooting for just that so she would finally shut up about feeding bread crumbs to fat ducks in a pond.

Almost all of Mason’s freak-outs occur when he’s alone. It took fifty minutes for there to be a scene where a character’s safety was even slightly in question. Yep, I looked at the counter to be sure. Fifty minutes worth of setup. Nothing should take this long to setup, especially a movie that’s only an hour and half long.

The trailer promises a classic woman-in-jeopardy storyline. The cinematography was excellent - vivid colors, interesting angles and close-ups. The premise was intriguing, the main character eccentric and interesting at first. Ultimately, the story and characters never felt plausible. Save your money.

One unexpected highlight: Number Six from Battlestar Galactica (Tricia Helfer) plays a walk-on role as Berkeley’s girlfriend. Now there was a plausible character! As soon as Berkeley starts acting like a crazy jerk, she leaves him.

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