Spiral (2007) (DVD)

Many people think that I’m much too hard on “Hatchet,” and unnecessarily punish it for being the victim of gross over hyping by a hyperactive press who stroked themselves to Green’s premiere debut. In actuality, I liked “Hatchet,” because it’s tough to disappoint me with a slasher film, and Green has a charisma about him that guarantees to win me over sooner or later. “Spiral” is a step in the direction where Green will definitely win me over as a fan if he continues at this rate.

“Spiral” is a much different film than “Hatchet.” It’s focused, it’s low key, it’s original, and it really takes its plot seriously with a fascinating glimpse into the psychology of an introvert who may or may not be a bonafide murderer and mental defect. Anyone still overwhelmed by the hyper violence Green’s film aspired to unveil will be pleasantly surprised to see this sophomore effort much more restrained and sophisticated. “Spiral” succeeds thanks to the fantastic screenplay by Boreing and Moore who create a truly human portrait of this man living in his own world, behind walls of isolation and alienation that may not be inadvertent. I cared about every single character here, and the material is helped by the great performances all around. Zachary Levi has the potential to be a cliché pompous braggart of the office setting, but thanks to Levi’s performance, and the down to Earth characterization, he’s much more human than we assume he’ll be.

As for Amber Tamblyn and Joel David Moore, they’re a force to be reckoned with as a couple and as individuals Green and Moore present on parallel but opposite spectrums of psychology and consciousness. Moore’s portrayal as Mason is utterly fantastic giving a deep and complex picture of a man who is definitely on the verge of exploding as his fascination with a charismatic co-worker unfolds before he knows what hits him. The question the writers pose is what is about to trigger Mason’s inevitable plunge in to sociopathic rage? Is it the sense of normality? The happiness that’s overpowering his guilt from his previous crime? Or perhaps the inevitable discovery his friend Amber may make? Tamblyn is a definite scene stealer here as the cute and spunky co-worker who inserts herself into Mason’s life in spite of his reluctance to respond to her advances and conversations.

The two eventually form a charming and sweet relationship that is probably doomed to end when she gets a bigger glimpse into his life. But don’t be fooled by the PG-13 rating, it’s actually not a bad movie because of it, Green just doesn’t feel the need for excess gratuitous blood in a film that really doesn’t require it. And as the clues and hints mount, “Spiral” actually ends up being a surprising and gut wrenching story with an ending that will leave you scratching your head, gasping in surprise, and overwhelmed with the moral about office interplay and how we can never really notice certain people until it’s too late. Hell, I never would have guessed the director of “Hatchet” could leave me this affected. It’s a rather mature and restrained dramatic thriller and one that excels thanks to great performances, a strong screenplay, and a mystery that ends on one hell of a hook thanks to masterful build-up.