Rating 3½

Directed by Adam Green and Joel David Moore

Written by Jeremy Daniel Boreing and Joel David Moore

Starring Joel David Moore, Zachary Levi and
Amber Tamblyn

Mason (Joel David Moore) is an aspiring artist and jazz enthusiast. He is also socially dysfunctional and borderline disturbed. He works for a telemarketing company, although he is clearly unsuitable for the job. His floor manager Berkeley (Zachary Levi) is the only person he is able to communicate with on any level. Mason’s life slowly begins to change when he meets Amber (Amber Tamblyn), a friendly but seemingly lonely young woman who has come to work at the company. Mason and Amber form a friendship and she starts to sit for him while he paints a series of portraits of her. They soon become lovers, but Mason is haunted by a recurring nightmare.

This is a mood piece, its theme established by the rainy setting of Portland, Oregon, and the effective use of jazz as the background music. Early shots of a street-corner diner immediately bring to mind Edward Hopper’s famous ‘Nighthawks at the Diner’ painting, with its lost and displaced figures. Although described by some as a horror film, presumably because Moore and his co-director Adam Green had previously worked together on the slasher movie ‘Hatchet’, it is no such thing. As has been pointed out elsewhere, it has more in common with Hitchcockian thrillers – for example, ‘Vertigo’ – although that is not to say it should be considered as a work in anyway comparable to the master filmmaker.

Critics were mixed in their reaction to the film. Some were favourable, but others were very hostile. The film critic Brian Orndorf referred to “poor actors” and a “rotten screenplay” and described the film as, “a low-budget cinematic learning curve that should’ve remained a private educational tool for two filmmakers in dire need of storytelling practice.”

Admittedly, the film is flawed and the eventual outcome all too obvious. Moore’s portrayal of Mason doesn’t so much take him to the edge of madness – he has long since jumped over into the void. It is not immediately clear why Amber trusts him so readily, unless perhaps we choose to suspect she is not all she seems, a suggestion the film does not obviously promote. The strange friendship between Mason and Berkeley and the bond that clearly holds them together should have been explored more deeply. Having said this, the film is about a person whose mind has fragmented and it is presented to us in a similarly fragmented way. Its faults accepted, the story is effectively told at a leisurely pace and the characters are interesting enough to hold our attention.

I liked it a lot.


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