Spiral (2019) – Horror Movie Review
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What’s Spiral About?
Set in the 1990s, Spiral stars Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Unreal, American Horror Story) as Malik and Ari Cohen (It: Chapter Two) as Aaron, 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).
Though nothing is as it seems as this small town harbours something sinister behind the picturesque homes, the perfect lifestyle and welcoming faces of their new neighbours. Also starring Ty Wood, Chandra West and Lochlyn Munroe.
Spiral is Written by Colin Minihan (writer of the Shudder Original Z and the upcoming new Urban Legend) and John Poliquin. Directed by Kurtis David Harder.
Spiral (2019) Review
Available exclusively on the AMC Networks’ Horror App, Shudder, Spiral is a gripping horror film featuring a Queer Couple who move to Small Town USA with their Daughter. Spiral taps into the anxiety of being LGTBQIA+, acceptable mainstream bigotry in the 1990s and isolationism.
The story kicks off with characters Malik (Bowyer-Chapman) and Aaron (Ari Cohen), a Queer Couple moving to small town USA, along with Aaron’s daughter (Laporte). The scenes are largely harmless initially though the movie is overshadowed by a brief scene of Malik’s (as a teen in the 80s) then boyfriend getting killed by a group of racist men simply for being gay and making out in their car.
Malik and Aaron are mostly welcomed into the neighbourhood, though it becomes apparent early on in the film the neighbours are happy to feign progressiveness in public. There’s a brief exchange of words between Aaron and a Neighbour assuming that Malik is the gardener. Leaving the viewer to assume its because of his African-American heritage.
Before long, Malik realises that all is not as it seems. He comes home after a run to the word “FAGGOT” spray painted on an inside wall of his home. Clearly distressed by this, Malik’s go to is paint over the words and ignore it as a normal occurrence. This is where the strange begins to elevate. An old man, seemingly stalking him, is found breaking into their home at night. Malik pursues him only for the Old Man to give him a piece of paper with random numbers. A warning of sorts that is soon followed by the strangest of neighbourhood rituals.
It isn’t until 42 minutes into the film where Malik and Ari’s daughter wakes up covered in blood and screaming from a dead animal carcass hidden in the roof that Malik’s spiral into madness begins to run its course. As the budding writer, Malik decides to start an investigation of his own and finds that a Lesbian Couple who had a Daughter used to live in the same house. A house where a murder suicide took place. Malik brings this to Aaron hoping to get some support.
Despite pleading from Aaron to leave it all alone and that everything happens is a coincidence – Malik can’t. There’s a consistent air of mistrust between the two men. Malik understands just how homophobic people can be whereas Aaron’s history of a previous heterosexual relationship colours his view of people and his environment.
There is nothing nefarious going on here.
These are just nice people.
All opinions that Aaron projects onto Malik as the entire series of events being in his head and his problem. This toxicity in their relationship is brought to a head when a computer hard drive containing all of Malik’s research is stolen and photos are found of Malik in a compromising S&M position with a younger man. Aaron kicks Malik out of the house and soon reality starts to spin out of control. Leading to Malik ending up at a party for their daughter and shooting one of their neighbours.
The neighbour who, later turns out to not be dead at all, instead reveals that the people of the town conduct a ritual every year that results in their everlasting youth. A ritual that involves the eating of the heart of a virgin. In this case: the couple’s daughter. They prey on those who are different or are shunned by society. Misfits, if you will, and in this decade Queer people are the latest victims to be exploited.
And the numbers on the piece of paper? The dates of the previous ritualistic sacrifices.
Spiral is a horror film for the modern age. Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman’s performance is a masterstroke, both in delivery of his descent into madness and in communicating the accepted bigotry the 1990s forced upon the Queer community. The rituals, heart eating and isolationism are the glaze on top. If there was a movie that could ever come close to being the Queer version of Get Out then this is it.
How can I watch Spiral?
Spiral is a Shudder Original Series and will be available to stream exclusively on Shudder (or the Shudder App) from the 17th September, 2020. With subscriptions starting at $5.99 per month.
At the time of writing this article, Shudder is available in the following countries: USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand.
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