Saturday, February 16, 2008

Film Review: "Spiral" (A+!)

This is one of those movies that I can't be objective on. I loved this movie through and through - there's no way I can find fault with it. I saw this first at Fantastic Fest, then when it had a limited release and played in Austin (which rocked).

I love how it burns slowly and builds to its shocking ending so perfectly, I love that jazz music is such a strong presence, I love that it isn't a straight up horror film but instead fucks with your head. I love that you get so drawn in with the characters that even when you know something is up, you can't help but love and feel for Mason (Joel David Moore). I love that Adam Green of "Hatchet" fame co-directed this with Joel Moore, also of "Hatchet" fame. Moore, by the way, also co-wrote and produced the film.

This is really more of a dark thriller than a proper horror film, so any genre fan looking for another "Hatchet" will of course end up with a huge surprise. This film really rides on the characters, particularly Mason, which is a huge reason why it works so well. Another reason it is so good is that the twist ("non-twist" as I believe it's been called) is what you think it is (if you pay attention, anyway), but then another twist is truly great. And this isn't the kind of twists that end up forming huge plot-holes or ruining a movie (like the end of "High Tension," which I hated).

The acting is brilliant - I found myself really identifying with Amber (Amber Tamblyn), who is so unique and wonderful and a breath of fresh fucking air when compared to the other sad and stereotypical roles of women in horror. Joel David Moore, who I already loved from "Hatchet," is also fantastic, especially when you consider how far from any previous role this is for him (having usually done comedic roles prior to this). Mason is so strange, so tortured, and even when the end comes, I couldn't help but still sort of like him in an odd, sympathetic manner.

There is one scene for me that stands out and not in an entirely good way. When Mason is in the graveyard to visit his mother's grave, there is a pop-ish song playing and I hated that. The scene itself would have been fine, but the music seemed so out of place when compared to the rest of the jazz-infused scenes. This might just be me, though - I liked that jazz became this secondary character and was so important to Mason. It was an added unique layer to an already great film.

I truly can't wait for the DVD - I've heard it's great. Also very notable is that this film stands up to multiple viewings. I've seen it twice and wasn't disappointed either time. I concede this film isn't for everyone, but it is a stunning change of pace and certainly found itself into my favorites. For me, this is near-perfect independent horror.

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