FrightFest 2007: Spiral review

The festival's over, and Sarah's actually managed to sleep for long enough to form a coherent opinion on some of the films. More or less. Adam Green's Spiral, then...

Director Adam Green’s debut feature, Hatchet, has inspired a legion of devoted fans – which probably has as much to do with Green’s own infectious enthusiasm and personality as with the movie itself. But while Hatchet was a love letter to the slasher genre, Spiral is something completely different.

Collaborating again with Joel David Moore, Adam Green has managed to create a film which is sweet, funny, and creepy – and he won’t have to battle with the MPAA to get less than an NC-17 rating this time.

Spiral, like Hatchet, isn’t a sequel or a remake, nor, despite the title, is it based on a Japanese one. Instead, it’s the story of a young man whose life isn’t quite what it seems. Ostensibly, Mason seems like the stereotypical nerd: he has a rubbish job, no friends, a rubbish apartment, and suffers chronically from some illness which requires an inhaler (either asthma or angina, presumably; it’s not quite clear which). But Mason has a talent, and a secret: he’s a great painter, but his obsession with the girls who model for him seems to be getting ever so slightly unhealthy…

Despite the low budget, Spiral looks great, and its original jazz soundtrack means it sounds great, too. Joel David Moore wrote and co-directed the film as well as playing the lead, and the film is essentially a two-hander between Moore and Amber Tamblyn as the almost unbelievably chirpy love interest. Spiral plays its cards close to its chest, and, unlike almost every other movie shown at FrightFest this year, the ending was never obvious. Hints were dropped throughout; but they were occasionally contradictory, meaning you never quite know where you stand. Even at the film’s denouement, there are some questions left tantalisingly unanswered – which is probably for the best, since leaving some things up to the audience’s imagination is infinitely scarier than telling them everything.

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Spiral‘s not the kind of film that’ll have you covering your eyes or hiding behind the sofa. It’s much more subtle – and much more insidious – than that. It’s not a perfect film, by a long shot, but it’s a good one, and between this and Hatchet, it seems Adam Green has a bright, bright future ahead of him.

And deservedly so.


4 out of 5