SPIRAL. 2007
Directors: Adam Green
& Joel Moore

COPE. 2006
Director: Ronald Jerry

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Spiral The psycho thriller Spiral (2007) is an unusual indie mess. It strives to be an artfilm vaguely in the vicinity of horror.

In its last five or ten minutes, it manages a double-whammy of predictable twist endings that make for a so-so conclusion, but getting to that marginally effective end is like sitting in a roller coaster during the off-season when it's not actually plugged in.

Mason (Joel David Moore) is a loony asthmatic who may or may not have killed a woman, but apparently believes he did whether or not it's true. He calls his only friend in the world in the wee hours, but is so lousy at communicating his fears, his pal just tells him "use your inhaler" & hangs up.

This friendship turns out to be fairly deep even though twisted, but we never really understand why a somewhat regular joe like Berkley (Zachary Levi of the mediocre television series Chuck) would be so supportive of this unutterable geek. We never get any clear insight into Berkley's persistent concern, as he seems otherwise to be a bit of a bully by nature.

SpiralOur off-his-meds protagonist works in an office cubicle selling insurance on the phone. His only pal in the world is also his boss, which makes sense only insofar as the guy is clearly not employably rational & only someone who pitied the hell out of him would keep him on the payroll.

At lunch on a bench outside the office building, Mason meets a beautiful girl, Amber (Amber Tamblyn, of the failed series Joan of Arcadia), though right off the bat we realize it's not at all likely someone like her would talk to such an obviously wacked out & potentially dangerous head-case like Mason.

As the story progresses, no one but Mason ever interacts with Amber, so though there's always the possibility she falls in love with him because she's secretly a nutter too, it seems more likely that she's strictly imaginary.

If it per chance it turns out that she does exist, & isn't crazy like him, then the only explanation for their "affair" is the absolutely retched scriptwriting, which lacks the least understanding of plausible human interaction.

He's an artist who paints dreadful pictures of women he's crushed out on, perhaps women he killed, more likely imaginary women, as it seems clearer & clearer that Mason is schizophrenic.

SpiralThe film is failing big time because of the poor script & worse timing, & more especially because of earnest over acting that's not even supposed to be funny.

The earnest script is just incredibly bad. For instance, a key "plot revelation" at the tail end -- regarding Mason's father -- is so trivial that it just should've been mentioned early in the story, but instead it's been circled, underlined, with exclaimation points on all sides.

And the script begs us throughout to consider the possibility that this woman might not be imaginary but really could have fallen for this man. It wouldn't happen. Yet the majority of the film's length focuses so wholeheartedly on this impossible relationship that for a while one begins to wonder why it's even marketed as horror & not as a mentally ill man's love story.

Joel David Moore is such a scenery-chewing spaz, he can sell this character about as easily as a door-to-door salesman could sell ice cubes to Arctic Eskimos. He never made me believe in this character; he only made me kind of pity the delusional state a guy has to be in to mistake this for acting.

CopeAs the unutterably amateur horror film Cope (2006) opens, we're treated to a bunch of newspaper headlines that inform us 8,000 people have mysteriously vanished from a small Alaskan town.

Fuzzy cinematography takes us through a series of badly edited, confused flashbacks which we might be assuming will resolve this mystery, but nooooo.

Not particularly graphic killings are hinted at without really showing how or by whom. Nor will we ever find out who.

We're next shown a kidnapped girl (Rachel Pinto) held captive in an empty white room & fed green gruel. We'll see her periodically throughout the film, apparently beat up while we were away. Her situation will never add up to anything.

In the chaotic time-line we see some family sequences from before the disappearances. They never mean anything either. One guy (Robert Wagner; no not that Robert Wagner) wakes up on a bus in the empty town & we watch him wander about.

CopeAny hope that any of this will make even surrealistic sense is doomed to disappointment.

Labeled as a "psychological thriller," there's nothing of the psychological or the thrilling about it. It's merely a photographed mess devoid of characterization or plot.

The advertised premise is that the Allen family are the only survivors (but they're only in flashbacks, so did not survive) set out to solve the mystery of what happened (nobody does this).

But if you subject yourself to the film's incoherent nonsense, you might take pity on the lying ad-writers who just made up their own synopsis since no one could make hide nor hair of what was actually supposed to be happening.

It's almost like three people made three short films without reference to what the others were doing, then all the scenes were spliced together in random order. It ends when they ran out of film bits to splice, not at any point or climax that might've ended a story.

An appallingly amateur musical score worsens the experience for the suffering viewer. The end credits include one of the worst efforts at heavy metal ever imposed on the public by a deluded dork who mistook himself for a rock star.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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