A scriptwriter whose credits include 'Go', the 'Charlie's Angels' movies and Tim Burton's 'The Corpse Bride', 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' and 'Big Fish', John August makes his directorial debut with 'The Nines', a contender for the oddest film of the year - along with David Lynch's 'INLAND EMPIRE'.

Consisting of three stories, 'The Nines' brings us into three worlds which all overlap.

In 'The Prisoner' TV star Gary (Reynolds) goes on a bender and ends up under house arrest, babysat by a PR woman (the excellent McCarthy) and tempted by the yummy mummy next door (Davis).

In 'Reality Television' writer Gavin is trying to get his new series off the ground. He wants his actress friend (McCarthy - playing herself) in the lead role but the studio boss (Davis) wants someone else.

In 'Knowing' video game designer Gabriel (Reynolds) gets stranded in a canyon with his wife (guess who?) and young daughter (Fanning). He meets a stranger (Davis) who he thinks will help him - but are her motives more sinister?

'The Nines' begins like an offbeat comedy then becomes part of a Reality TV show before changing tone and pace into thriller conventions. It's a very strange experience and one that won't appeal to everyone. Some will leave the cinema eager for more headwrecking when the DVD is released; others will feel their marbles have been rattled enough already.

At 99 (count 'em!) minutes, 'The Nines' feels like it needed to be a longer film for its triptych to work properly. From a character point of view, the most engrossing segment is the first one, thereafter the people become progressively less interesting while the plot becomes more challenging.

A riddle you may or may not want to figure out.

Harry Guerin