04th Oct2018

‘Spiral’ Review

by Kevin Haldon

Stars: Tyler Thirnbeck, Anthony Stratton, Michael Vlamis, Mitch Westphal, Hays McEachern, Shara McGlinn, Barrington Vaxtor, TJ Morris | Written and Directed by Joe Clarke


It’s 2018 we know the drill, group of friends get together to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of one of there own. Coke, strippers, a yacht and copious amounts of alcohol… Surely this won’t end well?! Yes we have seen it all before in films like Very Bad Things, Stag or The Hangover. So why give Spiral your time? I mean what could possibly keep you entertained..? Did I mention the whole inter-dimensional aspect? No, Well there is one and damn does that flip this somewhat tired genre on its head, turning it into a high concept mind bending psychological twist-y turn-y thriller…

Intrigued? You bloody should be.

As billed up top, Spiral is essentially a bachelor party gone wrong type of deal. Six somewhat estranged friends have all come together again to see off Corey (Tyler Thirnbeck) as he prepares for married life. Of course, as with pretty much any stag do, this one is going to be filled with beer, drugs, yachts and women (I mean mine was, wasn’t yours?). Ellis (Anthony Stratton) has not really been around his friends lately and there seems to be some deep resentment between himself and Will (Hays McEachern). Ryan (Michael Vlamis) has just come into a good chunk of cash so he is determined to make this the weekend of a lifetime for himself and the guys, mostly himself though. After meeting up in their cabin palace – paid for by Ryan – they spend the day drinking and bonding on a swanky ass party yacht – paid for by Ryan – before heading to a pretty dope strip club that they have to themselves after booking it out for the night – paid by Ryan. Obviously they don’t want this night to end at the strip club so the gang take a few of the girls back to the cabin for an after party. This is where shit gets mental.

Upon waking up after some pretty weird and out there dreams (that I wont get into due to spoilers) they find that Corey has gone missing and no one seems all that forthcoming on helping them. That’s the plot really, If I go any further I will end up spoiling the meat and potatoes of this movie.

Lets talk for a moment about writer/director Joe Clarke. For my money Clarke has gone a really long way here on what I assume is a pretty low budget. What starts as a supposedly run of the mill guys movie slowly turns into a highly conceptualised, slow-burning thriller. Very little here is done by accident :from the character choices and flaws, to the lingering camera shots, that in some independent movies are a sign of piss poor editing. Clarke does this intentionally and it all makes sense. It takes skill on a film makers part to make this seem natural and not feel like the film wants to be cleverer than it actually is. Make no mistake, while we are partying it up for the first 30-40 minutes this is a slow burn but at no point did it feel like it. Which brings me to my next point…

The cast. I cant fault anyone, they all do there jobs and do them well. I thought Ellis was a huge turd (I think your meant to). Vlamis played Ryan superbly. I have not mentioned Mitch yet, played by Mitch Westphal, pretty much rounding out the gang as the seemingly dumb guy who knows a lot about alternate dimensions.

Shara McGlinn plays Fox, doing a great Salma Hayek “Dusk till Dawn” routine as the sort of leader of the strippers if you will, she is great and really had me intrigued and wanted more from her (is that just me? Let me know once you see it). Then there is Lincoln (Barrington Vaxtor). Boy, oh boy, do we need to talk about Lincoln; actually I am struggling to find the words so all I will say is “absurdly over the top and great with it.” I got a real kick out of Lincoln.

I do have a little pet peeve. If you have been counting along I mentioned up top there are six friends and only referenced five. Jay (TJ Morris) is the 6th member, I don’t leave him out because he is bad on the contrary he is a good addition BUT unless I fell asleep for a moment I honestly can’t remember what happened to him.

Overall I would recommend giving Spiral a watch. The script is great and while a lot of the dialogue could – in the wrong hands – sound forced, it plays really well due to all of the actors having great chemistry with each other; which plays nicely especially in the early awkward moments. The concept is fresh and writer/director Joe Clarke has a very stylised vision. I cant say it enough, this movie looks smooth and sleek, props to the DOP. The soundtrack is excellent too – from the eerie score to the popular music. You will be hard pushed to find a movie that pushes this particular genre into the territory Spiral does. A very solid and respectable:

**** 4/5

Spiral is released on iTunes and Amazon October 16th. The film also premieres at Arclight Hollywood on the same day.


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