The Get Out for the queer community, Kurtis David Harder’s Spiral shines a cynical light on modern society through its chilling vision of suburbia. Co-written by Colin Minihan and John Poliquin, the plot follows couple Aaron (IT’s Ari Cohen) and Malik (American Horror Story’s Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman) as they relocate to an idyllic neighbourhood with their teenage daughter Kayla (Jennifer Laporte) in 1995. However, something sinister seems to be happening behind their neighbours’ closed doors, and the newcomers appear to be the targets of this mysterious plotting.
Carried by Cohen’s and Bowyer-Chapman’s stellar performances, Spiral is a frequently unsettling affair. While a little rough around the edges, this flick’s low-budget charm and dark mystery makes for an entertaining and enticing watch. Unfortunately, some major pacing issues get in the way of the film achieving a higher cinematic status.
As with most horror genre pictures, the opening takes things slow to help the audience settle into the diegesis. Here, viewers are introduced to the amiable leading couple. The actors have palpable chemistry on screen together, making it easy to become invested in their increasingly horrific situation. While Laporte isn’t as involved, she likewise gives a commendable performance.
It’s not until an elderly neighbour breaks into the couple’s home and gives Malik a blank piece of paper that events start to spiral out of control. Later that night, Malik catches sight of a strange ritual in the old man’s window. From herein, he grows increasingly paranoid about his neighbours’ motivations and begins to investigate further, all the while unable to convince Aaron of what he believes.
With a menacing score by Avery Kentis, Spiral succeeds in instilling an inescapable sense of dread. Though the scares are accompanied by predictable sharp swells of sound, none feel cheaply executed. In fact, some of the work’s most effective moments are the most unexpected.
The main issue with this film stems from its inconsistent pace. Whenever events seem to beare escalating, particularly towards the climax, the plot’s brakes are slammed down.. As if the filmmakers are perpetually teasing the throttle, the story never gets to second gear, which leaves viewers wondering where the horror could have taken them.
Though it’s not the scariest, wittiest or most original contemporary horror out there, Spiral is nevertheless an enjoyable and satisfyingly creepy flick that genre fans won’t regret seeing.
Spiral is released digitally on demand on 17th September 2020.
Watch the trailer for Spiral here: