A moody psychological thriller co-directed by Adam Green and actor/executive producer Joel David Moore, star of Green's retro-slasher picture HATCHET (2007) and author of the short screenplay he and producer Jeremy Danial Boreing expanded to feature length, this ambitious independent feature eschews gore in favor of rubber-reality ambiguity.
Depressed, asthmatic, nightmare-haunted artist Mason (Moore, who also co-produced) pays the bills as an auto insurance telemarketer, answering to best friend Berkeley (executive producer Zachary Levi, of TV's Chuck), a womanizing creep who nonetheless looks out for Mason and seems to know some dark secret about his childhood pal. Mason begins a tentative relationship with new employee Amber (Amber Tamblyn, of TV's Joan of Arcadia), whose bubbly exterior lies lightly over a deep well of loneliness and insecurity. Mason is inspired to paint again, and Amber agrees to model. But at the same time her company draws Mason out of his self-imposed isolation, it also stirs up dark emotions and memories that might be better left alone. Is the jazz-obsessed Mason a serial killer who sketches women as a prelude to murder, or simply a lost soul whose mind is seething with violent fantasies upon which he would never act?
An offbeat effort to generate Hitchcockian suspense on a bare bones budget, Green and Moore's film rests squarely on the actor's narrow shoulders. Best known for slouching through broad comedies (coincidentally, gross-out romantic comedy THE HOTTIE AND THE NOTTIE, which cast Moore opposite celebutante Paris Hilton, opened on the same day as SPIRAL), Moore acquits himself surprisingly well as the tormented Mason. The film's reach ultimately exceeds its grasp, but it's an honorable and sometimes effective alternative to more formulaic genre shockers. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh