Shudder added its original queer horror film Spiral on September 17 as part of 61 Days of Halloween. With over a month to go until the big day, how does this little movie measure up to big Halloween expectations?
Spiral stars Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman and Ari Cohen as Malik and Aaron, a couple who move to a small town in search of peace, quiet and normalcy for their teenage daughter Kayla. Early on, they meet their friendly neighbors Marshall and Tiffany, but Malik feels that something isn’t quite right about them.
Malik suffered trauma in his past, when he and his lover were accosted by a group of men, and we initially don’t know how seriously his boyfriend was injured. What we do know is that after moving into their new home, Malik starts to see and experience some strange things; either that, or he is imagining them, because he is definitely becoming paranoid. Either way, the tension builds steadily throughout.
He comes home to find a homophobic slur painted on the living room wall, and paints over it rather than telling Aaron what has happened. He finds out that a lesbian couple died in the neighborhood ten years ago, despite Marshall and Tiffany professing that it’s “refreshing” to have a same sex couple in town. As Malik begins to suspect that something very sinister is going on, we continue to wonder if it’s all in his head.
The actors give good, solid performances, particularly Bowyer-Chapman. His portrayal of Malik is gripping and sympathetic and he walks a fine line between making us doubt his perceptions, or believe that something is very, very wrong in this suburban neighborhood. It’s an unsettling story, and reminiscent of a queer horror (and very grim) version of Get Out.
This is not a fast-moving film, but if you like movies that creep along slowly towards a shocking climax, Spiral is enjoyable.
If you don’t like social commentary in your horror, you might want to steer away, because there is a lot said and implied about treating people who don’t fit into traditional molds as less than human. It’s a timely theme for 2020 and the ending hits hard.
Do you enjoy slow burn horror, or do you prefer your thrills and chills to be fast and furious? Let us know your favorite slow burn films in the comments section.