Directed by Jonas Åkerlund, starring Jason Schwartzman, Mickey Rourke, Brittany Murphy, John Leguizamo, Mena Suvari, Patrick Fugit, Alexis Arquette, Peter Stormare, Deborah Harry and Eric Roberts.

The name Jonas Åkerlund may not be familiar but anyone with even the most casual interest in popular music has seen his work. Åkerlund has made four of the most controversial videos of recent years: The Prodigy's 'Smack My Bitch Up', The Cardigans' 'My Favourite Game', Metallica's 'Turn the Page' and - the mini template for 'Spun' - Smashing Pumpkins' 'Try, Try Try'. But Åkerlund has also proved he can do daytime too - directing U2's 'Beautiful Day' and Madonna's 'Ray of Light'. The only way his debut feature film will be shown is during the very small hours and even then it would be an act of supreme indulgence on the part of schedulers - and one of barbaric cruelty towards insomniacs and shiftworkers.

Taking its title from the (un)natural state of amphetamine addicts, 'Spun' follows a gang of speed freaks from one teeth-grinding day to the next. There's Ross (Schwartzman), who seems quite new to the life yet has managed to hook up with the dregs: dealer Spider Mike (Leguizamo) and girlfriend Cookie (Suvari). He gets his stuff from motel-based chemist Cook (Rourke) whose girlfriend, Nikki (Murphy), is also a regular at Spider Mike's hovel. Giving Nikki a ride back to Bunsen burner central one day, Ross ends up becoming Cook's unofficial chauffeur - in return for more speed, of course.

Forget drama, forget character development and scrub away any idea of emotional involvement because 'Spun' is a mess. Whatever talents Åkerlund has for creating a lasting story in four minutes on the small screen, delivering one 30 times that length is beyond him, way beyond. And any director that would sign himself up to a script that's flimsier than the characters' grasp on reality should have a big sitdown with himself.

There are films that want to shock because they can and films that want to shock because they must. This is near the top/bottom of the former category and could have even the most open- minded thinking that if censorship can stop such drivel getting to screens it might be a good thing. Here, a woman is left handcuffed to a bed for four days, someone else is shot in the testicles and another engages in graphic phone sex. With a storyline this aimless, the only purpose any of these scenes serve is to make you hate the main characters even more.

It's the type of disaster that will convince some students to think they've graduated to the realm of living dangerously by watching it when all they're doing is gorging on the scraps of far better films - and videos. 'Spun' hasn't an ounce of the black wit of 'Trainspotting' or the slow motion horror of 'Requiem for Dream' but will never be able to repay the debt it owes both of them. There's only so much squalor and fast edit eyeballs you can take, not because you've seen too much, because you've seen it all before.

For the young cast assembled - all of whom have done fine work in the past - appearing in 'Spun' can only be put down as a lemming-like desire to slum it. They all look like they were hitched to the back of a tow truck and bounced around Los Angeles for two days but, with the exception of Suvari's character, it seems the trip to the dealer was preceded by many to the orthodontist. Their teeth are all way too white and intact to make you think they're anything other than actors - with nothing in the way of strong material, the only risk they have to take is dressing in dirty clothes. And for such a squalid film, its surprising how little nudity there is. Maybe they thought that would hurt their careers, just keeping their clothes on and staying in shot could have the same effect. As for Rourke, he should know and deserves better.

You can mellow to many films after the fact, it takes a special one to wind you up even more. No amount of vitriol or warnings could be a sufficient deterrent from wasting money on 'Spun'. And if this review has wasted your time, click away knowing it's nothing compared to its subject.

Harry Guerin