The world is coming to an end. So the question posed in writer/co-director David Chase and co-director David Heacock’s thriller, Spin the Wheel, is, what would you do? How about playing a game of Russian Roulette with the Devil?
The Apocalypse is upon us, and humanity has only one hour left to exist. After finishing up her work for the day, Eve (Dianne Wulf) decides to head to her local dive bar for her literal last drink. Along the way, buildings are on fire, and crime rages on. When she arrives, Eve notices several familiar and unfamiliar faces at the bar, including a greedy businessman, a redneck, a gang member, a trans-woman, a gay adult actor, and some young people. But the stranger of note is Lou (Neil Chase), who self-identifies as the “Devil.”
Lou presents an interesting proposition as the bar patrons mull over their beer. For anyone willing, if they can beat him in a game of Russian Roulette, they will get a chance to live on but lose… well, this is Russian Roulette. The rules are simple. It’s your choice to play, but you have to play to the end. Several patrons agree, including Eve, who volunteers to go first.
You have to admit, Spin the Wheel has an engaging plot and harkens back to The Twilight Zone. But, premise aside, the most interesting part is the question posed at the beginning. What would you do if the world was coming to an end in one hour? Of course, each character has their own motivations, and the game of Russian Roulette serves as more of a catalyst to pursue those motivations.
“How about playing a game of Russian Roulette with the Devil?”
As the game proceeds, tough conversations take place. The one that stands out the most is the idea that the Apocalypse is the great equalizer. No matter your race, class, orientation, or gender, it all comes to an end. Money means nothing. Ambition means nothing. So the natural choice seems to pursue hedonistic pleasures through choices you’d never make in less extreme situations. Or do you still hold onto your goodness and integrity? Also, is Lou really the Devil, or is he a sadistic SOB playing off the fears of these strangers?
As a film, Spin the Wheel is a bit of a mixed bag. The set design and make-up effects are pretty good for an independent production. The bar is full of neon lights that give off a neo-noir vibe. The cinematography makes great use of the lights, but many of the shots are comprised of medium and wide angles. I may have missed it, but I was looking for some cool close-ups of the chamber spinning while the gun is dragged down Lou’s arm. Yes, I’m nitpicking here.
But the sound is probably the biggest problem. All of the back-and-forth conversations seem to have been captured by the cameras versus through separate recording equipment. So a lot of ambient sounds interfere with the spoken words. I mention it only because it’s noticeable in the final product, especially as the dialogue is set against a crisp, clean music score. By the way, the soundtrack works well throughout the movie.
Chase is great as “the Devil.” Since he wrote the piece, he understands the character and executes Lou perfectly. However, in terms of being prepared and rehearsing, the rest of the cast is a bit inconsistent. There is a difference between reciting lines of dialogue and giving a natural performance.
Hands down, the best part of Spin the Wheel is the narrative. The motion picture asks the right questions as society is pushed to extremes. Though it’s not perfect, it is a thought-provoking film and good enough to recommend. From the apocalyptic setting to its take on humanity and even the Devil himself, I liked what the movie offers.
For screening information, visit the Spin the Wheel official website.
"…a thought-provoking film..."