OCTOBER 21, 2007
I don’t think I need to remind everyone how much I loved Adam Green’s Hatchet, but suffice to say I was very curious what his follow up would be. Luckily, he chose to go as far from Hatchet as possible with Spiral, which can barely even be considered a horror movie. Many of the new horror directors followed up with either a sequel to their first film (hell, Bousman made THREE Saw films in a row before finally leaving Jigsaw behind), or continue exploring the same themes (Rob Zombie’s Haddonfield seems to be populated with extras from Devil’s Rejects), or just ignored the genre all together (Zack Snyder, though I understand he may actually make another zombie film after Watchmen, but that'll be years!).
But Green (who actually co-directed with Joel Moore, who also wrote and produced the film) retains nothing from Hatchet, other than appearing in another brief cameo as a guy who glares at Moore’s character. Instead, Spiral tells the story of Mason (Moore), a guy who is clearly suffering from a mental problem or two, not to mention extreme asthma. He only has one friend (Chuck’s Zachary Levi – in a surprisingly great performance), and his daily bagged lunch is seemingly stolen from a 4th grader (is it even possible to get those little cardboard milk cartons anywhere besides a middle school?). Then a really hot girl (Amber Tamblyn) comes along....
Of course, the movie isn’t out yet (January theatrical limited release from Anchor Bay, DVD soon after), so I don’t want to spoil too much about it at this time. But let’s just say that if you think you have figured out the movie’s ending halfway through (as I did), you will most likely be wrong. Moore and co-writer Jeremy Boreing did a great job constructing the film, and the twist (or twists, I guess) holds up when you think about what came before (but it doesn’t come completely out of left field and ruin the entire movie either, like High Tension).
One thing about the film that may turn some folks off is that Moore’s character is SO strange, it might become difficult for them to deal with, especially since he is in just about every frame of the film (about 10 minutes before the film ends, Moore leaves a scene and we stay with Levi’s character, and you realize that it’s the first time in the film we have been in a scene that wasn’t from his perspective). You might also wonder why Tamblyn would be interested in him at all; at the Q&A Green and Boreing said that her character was possibly just as lonely/messed up as Moore’s, but this idea wasn’t sold enough.
Still, minor flaws in an otherwise really good and unique movie. It proves Green can make something besides funny slasher movies, and the performances from all three leads (all cast against type) are the best in their careers. It won’t be for everyone (especially those expecting another Hatchet), but those who enjoy a character based thriller should really dig it when it comes out.
And hurrah! This ends a week+ of almost nothing but festival movies! I can go back to watching things other people may have actually seen!
What say you?