The director and star of ‘Hatchet: Old School America Horror’ (Adam Green and Joel David Moore) have brought another thriller, albeit different, to the screen. Mason, (Joel David Moore) is your everyday insurance salesman drone living in corporate blandness. Mason is quiet, reserved and a painter. Mason’s only way of communicating with the outside world is to express himself in his art. What makes this different from your standard art house/ Sundance snore fest is that Mason may or may not be imagining the women he is using as models.
The film opens with a sequence that may or may not be a dream. Which is fitting for this Hitchcockian type tale about lust, art and the places an unstable mind can go. Mason has a vision of a girlfriend/ lover dying at his own hands. Immediately after Mason’s “waking dream” he calls his only friend in the world Berkeley (Zachary Levi of NBC’s “Chuck”). Berkeley is an unusual friend for Mason because he is the opposite of Mason. He is cool, laid back, successful and it also happens that he is Mason’s boss.
At work we see Mason’s dull corporate world and the only color in that world is the red on Mason’s hands. Yet, is it red paint or blood? Throughout the beginning of the film Joel David Moore creates a character that is both disturbing and sad. Reaching out for Mason is easy in the context of the story. That is, until we see Mason getting rid of what appears to be a body. Then suddenly he awakens as if he is having a nightmare. Both the confines of reality and Mason’s sanity are being tested in ‘Spiral’.
Mason then meets a woman who works in his building. Amber (Amber Tamblyn of "Joan of Arcadia" fame) is fun, outgoing and spunky. In short, all that Mason is not. Amber somehow cracks the protective bubble Mason has around himself and the two begin to see each other romantically. Mason starts painting Amber’s portrait. He sketches her on his lunch break and paints her at night. At this point it becomes more like a date movie. These two strange ducks compliment each other but Mason has these occasional flashes (visions/ memories) that lead us to believe he may not be so nice and quiet after all.
Amber Tamblyn is the perfect girlfriend in ‘Spiral’. She is a little too perfect at times, which works for the film. Constantly we begin to wonder if she is actually real. Did Mason really kill that first girl? Does he imagine these girls as Berkeley accuses him of doing? After Amber finds a several sketch books all with different girls in identical poses she begins to question Mason’s sincerity.
In all honesty the film played as if it was typical love story. Adam Green and Joel David Moore (co-directors) really shape the story allowing you to lower your defenses towards Mason but still take the side of Amber. Even though this is Mason’s story Amber is clearly the one at risk.
By the end there are so many questions and twists that when all the puzzle pieces fall into place you will be left with your jaw wide open. What Green and Moore did (intentional or not) is hit the viewer with some M. Night Shyamalan flashbacks and really uses it to spin the story. When the entire truth behind ‘Spiral’ is revealed it is done with such a simple moment that it screams: Hitchcock.