David Heacock, Neil Chase
"The world's on fire, and there's nobody to put it out." And when that's the case, you may as well pour yourself a drink or two, wouldn't ya say? In Neil Chase's "Spin The Wheel," we meet a bunch of strangers that find themselves in the middle of the apocalypse - happening in real time as we watch. As if the world burning down around them wasn't already enough to be dealing with, they encounter a man who purports to be the Devil himself, and he wants to play a little game of Russian Roulette - if there are any takers. The rules are simple – once you start playing, you can't stop until the game is done – but if you win, you have the opportunity to save the entire world. "No substitutions, no mulligans, no rainchecks – you start, you finish."
If that sounds like fun, that's because it is! "Spin The Wheel" was a rollicking good time that is filled with dark humor, smart twists, and a genuinely unique plot that was a true riot to watch unfold onscreen. You've gotta ask yourself – what would you do? Perhaps even more accurately, how could you not gamble with your own measly little life if you had the chance to save everyone on the planet? Indeed the lives of billions of people are worth more than just your own, are they not? Yet to make that gamble, you also have to be convinced that the Devil not only exists - but that he'd have the power to reverse course on the world that has been visibly crumbling around them while they sit in the bar. I know I've met some shady characters in my life, but I never really felt like I had to make a deal with the Devil before. That being said, on the wrong Wednesday of any given week, I feel like I could watch this whole valley of malls we've created burn down without batting an eye. I enjoyed the idea of weighing out the pros and cons of having to make this wager to save humanity and whether or not saving it would really be worth it. Also, when was the last time you saw the Devil bust out a karaoke cover of "Just A Gigolo / I Ain't Got Nobody?" Has it been a while? You see? There are all kinds of reasons to watch "Spin The Wheel!"
In the process of all this chaos, you'll find loose social commentary written into "Spin The Wheel," which, personally, I felt might have hindered a few spots of the dialogue. It's used somewhat to support the looser concept of what got the planet into the dire situation that it's currently facing, and I suppose it works well enough. It does highlight the implied perils of the seemingly endless divide that has been consuming the planet, which is certainly possible – there are believable elements to this idea for sure. "Spin The Wheel" also bravely takes a small stab at conversations around sexuality, which was very unexpected to have found within this film. But, again, as to whether or not it was entirely needed or necessary to the overall plotline, I feel that's much more up for debate. "Spin The Wheel" does feel like it's trying to take a moment or two from its platform to toss out a few authentic points of view. So here I am, doing my level best to watch a few heads get blown off, and I kept feeling like "Spin The Wheel" was trying to teach me a few things from sociology and psychology at the same time, you know? Some of it works well and feels natural to the characters; some of it feels like it's much more contrived.
Honestly, I was actually really stoked about how this film came out…mind you, I thrive on films set in one room. The acting as a whole is pretty decent, though, and the script is solid and built around the core of a genuinely killer idea, and the real ace in the hole is that the Devil himself, played by writer/co-director Neil Chase, was straight-up exceptional. This dude knew how to get the maximum results out of his role and credit where credit is due; without Chase rising to the occasion as successfully as he did, I think "Spin The Wheel" would have come out only about half as strong. He's one of the most watchable characters/actors I've seen in quite a while, with the perfect pair of intense eyeballs to make every stare pierce through the room & put fear into the others during every conversation they have.
What would I change, or what would I want done differently? Not a whole lot, really. I'll admit, I'm never a fan of films that make spare use of slow-motion tactics…I think it's one of those elements that you either have to choose to use a bunch or not at all – anything in between can tend to seem a little cheesy, in my opinion. Obviously, that implies that it's not too much of a factor in "Spin The Wheel," so don't get me wrong, it's definitely not a deal breaker, just another small aspect that didn't entirely seem necessary. I really liked the use of the news channel at the start to fill us in on the apocalypse as it was happening at the start and kind of wish they'd kept that going somehow as the story continued. As for the social commentary…again, some of it worked well, some it not so much…but I get that Chase and his co-director David Heacock still needed a few additional elements to keep this movie moving along.
At the end of the day, any comments, critiques, or observations I've got are minimal at best – I really enjoyed "Spin The Wheel" overall and came out feeling like I'd watch Chase in anything. He's like the Devil, and Patrick Bateman all rolled into one, and it really works brilliantly as a character combination. The storyline itself left no holes in the plot, and the attention to detail was there; it's arguably more of a Mystery/Thriller than anything too engrossed in Horror like you'd assume with the Devil in the starring role, and above all things, while it's got humor in it, it's subtle, and it doesn't ever ruin the suspense. I'm feeling like "Spin The Wheel" deserves a 3.5 out of 5 stars – I'd definitely watch it again, and if you're a fan of apocalyptic movies and/or mysteries with great characters involved, you'll likely dig on this too.