Has there ever been a Hollywood star who fell as low as Mickey Rourke? Once cherubic, blessed with the rare gift of gentle seduction, he then rejected movies and journeyed to what looks like hell and back several times. In his current reemergence, he has become a pumped-up, smirking trash demon of the streets -- the Hulk of sleaze.
In Spun, a kaleidoscopic grungefest in which a group of pretty young crystal-meth junkies spend 90 minutes bouncing off one another like pinballs, Rourke, bloated and towering, with loose scraggles of gray-blond hair, is the Cook, who presides over boiling beakers in his L.A. motel room, concocting the methamphetamine that everyone is desperate for. Every so often, he emerges to buy ingredients and porn videos, but whatever happens, he reigns over the film because he's the one freak on hand who isn't faking his freakishness.
This is a bad-trip movie in which the more spectacularly ugly everything looks, the more we're supposed to get off on it. For drug addicts, pleasure deadens through repetition, and that's true of ''Spun,'' too, which uses stroboscopic cuts, shock sound, and triple-X animated imagery to deposit us inside the experience of a crank high. The director, Jonas Akerlund, made the most brilliant video ever to be banned by MTV (the I-was-a-night-crawler visualization of Prodigy's ''Smack My Bitch Up''), and he has an undeniable instinct for dirtbag theatrics.
''Spun'' is accomplished, but it's also numbing. It's hard to have much connection to people who never connect with each other. The cast, all slumming for cred by acting as wasted as possible, includes Mena Suvari in scummy teeth, Brittany Murphy in dirty-doll outfits, a naked John Leguizamo hyperkinetically masturbating into a sock, and Jason Schwartzman as the lank-haired ''normal'' hero, who handcuffs a stripper to a bed and leaves her there with her eyes and mouth covered in duct tape. Please don't try this at home.