FILM REVIEW: SPIRAL
“Wow…That’s so Exciting! We don’t have any of you in town”
Welcome to the neighbourhood! Its 1995 and partners Malik (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman) and Aaron (Ari Cohen) have decided to leave the dangerous streets of Chicago for a safer, quieter small town life. In tow is their “less than excited to relocate” daughter (from Aarons previous relationship) named Kayla (Jennifer Laporte), or as she is affectionately called by Malik, “Booger”.
That line at the top of this review? Well, that was part of a one -two racist punch by the one-woman neighborhood welcome committee Tiffany (Chandra West). Tiffany (who may as well be named Karen) preceded that line with commenting about seeing “the gardener” (Of course this Karen assumed Malik was the gardener) working at Aarons house so early in the morning. She then give them some Audrey 2 from LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS looking plant as a housewarming gift. Home Sweet Home.
Malik is not impressed with ignorant bumpkin Tiffany, and as we meet more locals, they too are unimpressive, ignorant and creepy. With Aaron away at work all day while Malik works from home, the isolation and slow creeping dread begins. This creeping dread and sense of impending doom will be with you till the very end of SPIRAL. Yes, this makes it an anxiety inducing watch.
As the family settles into small town life, Malik is increasingly unsettled by everything and everyone surrounding them. In wanting to protect his loved ones Malik uncovers a dark history he may have wished he hadn’t. As his life spirals out of control, Malik fights to expose the truth and save his family and relationship. I don’t want to give away much more, but if you are a fan of social commentary horror (similar in tone to GET OUT, but I also saw some shades of SOCIETY in there) you will really dig SPIRAL.
Make no mistake, SPIRAL is Malik’s story and Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, the star. This film wouldn’t work if it wasn’t for his stunning performance. I was not familiar with Bowyer-Chapman prior to SPIRAL and I have honestly not been the same since.
SPIRAL is written by Colin Minihan, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite filmmakers. If you haven’t seen WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE ( you can read Danielle Dallaire‘s SXSW interview with Minihan and the films two leads here!) I cannot emphasize enough how much you should. In fact, make a night of it and watch WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE and SPIRAL back to back. It’s a really fun way to make your heart race.
Just as in WHAT KEEPS YOU ALIVE, the locations, production design, direction and sound design are exquisite. This film would absolutely rule in the theatre.
What I wasn’t prepared for with SPIRAL was how deeply sad it made me feel. My heart broke watching it. I was anticipating the scares, but not the intense sadness and ugly crying. Factors such as watching this during an almost year long state of isolation, coupled with the dark, cold Canadian winter definitely are in play, but it really came down to the slow, but steady downward spiral that Malik was experiencing that hit so hard. As I mentioned before, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapmans performance IS this film and it will leave you feeling it for days after.
SPIRAL is out on VOD now!
“SPIRAL is STUNNING”
4 1/2 Tombstones out of 5…