Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Spiral Review: An Authentic 90s Descent Into Madness And Dread

Malik (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, American Horror Story), and Aaron (Ari Cohen, It: Chapter Two), a same-sex couple, move to a small town in search of a better environment for them and their 16-year-old daughter (Jennifer Laporte, Web of Dreams). But nothing is as it seems as something sinister lies behind the picturesque homes and welcoming faces of their new neighbors. With Ty Wood, Chandra West and Lochlyn Munroe. Written by Colin Minihan (writer of the Shudder Original Z and the upcoming new Urban Legend) and John Poliquin, directed by Kurtis David Harder (Summerland). A SHUDDER ORIGINAL.

Release date: September 17, 2020
Running time: 87 minutes
Starring:  Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, Ari Cohen, Jennifer Laporte

Malik (Bowyer-Chapman) and Aaron (Cohen), move to a small town in search of a better environment for them and their 16-year-old daughter (Laporte). But nothing is as it seems as something sinister lies behind the picturesque homes and welcoming faces of their new neighbors.  And the more Malik delves into the weird occurrences and strange neighbors, the more he realizes that this is not the first time this has happened.   

This film is set in the 1990s and I was really impressed with the attention to detail that it had.  It featured plenty of authentic 90s touches including the technology, the decor, and the general overall setting. Great care was taken to make the town feel like a real small town, with the right balance of caring and nosy neighbors.  And there were some amazing details including tube TVs, older video game systems, old computers, and a disc that was burned with Nero burning rom, a program I haven't thought about in two decades.  And setting it in the 90s was more than just a stylistic choice, it is critical to the overall story.  

I really liked all the characters, but Malik (Bowyer-Chapman) was amazing as a proud, outspoken gay man in the 90s.  His character was one that instantly stands out for all the right reasons and I really liked seeing his portrayal.  It is especially fun to see his back and forth with Laporte as the two spar for their place in the overall family structure.  And having a nontraditional family and diverse gay couple as the main characters in a horror movie was a refreshingly different premise than what I am used to.  Although horror films are as progressive as most movies, it was still great to see a different protagonist than what I am normally used to.  However, the Spiral is not just trying to be progressive for progressive sake (although that is a notable goal and one that should be applauded), but it also uses the couple's identity as a key aspect of the overall story.

And the story of Spiral builds slowly and features plenty of psychological terror.  The movie doesn't feature gore, but rather slowly draws you into its strange setting with mind games and an ever present sense of dread.  As Malik explores further and further into the goings on of the family's new town, he realizes just how much danger is lurking around him.  Spiral does a great job of starting with a lot of unknown information that is gradually revealed as you work your way down this dark vortex.  You watch without a sense of what is going on, but happy to experience it nonetheless.  And when aspects of the story are revealed, they clear up previous questions nicely.  And at the center of this spiral is a reveal that ties a lot together, while still leaving you with questions as any good horror film should.

Spiral's attention to 90s detail and refreshingly diverse main characters help you lose yourself on this descent into madness and dread.   

Watch it.

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following us on our various social media platforms: FacebookTwitterInstagramYoutube. Spiral debuts on September 17, 2020 exclusively on Shudder.

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