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Film Review

Shudder’s SPIRAL (2020) Review




Malik (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, American Horror Story, Canada’s Drag Race) and Aaron (Ari Cohen, IT: CHAPTER TWO) 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 (Lochlyn Munro, CW’s Riverdale).
A horror film for the current age, SPIRAL skillfully dissects themes of ostracization, otherness, and the cycles of societal rejection and hate, led by a breakout performance by Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman.


If you are looking for a hack and slash horror look away now as Spiral is definitely not that horror, Spiral is more of a brain twisting thriller that addresses many problems of modern society. I will admit it took a while for me to get into it as it does take a while for the story to kick in but it is worth sticking with it for the long haul as it is one of those films that you need to watch all the way through for it to make any sense.

Colin Minihan does a good job in building the character of Malik (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman) using flashbacks of an LGBTQ hate attack when he was younger to get you to understand the way Malik is feeling in his adult years and explains some of his actions. There are some moments in the film that I found confusing such as when Aaron’s daughter is talking to the neighbors son on a bridge, a man in a black mask appears on the other side and starts heading for them but nothing happens as they take off in their car and the scene abruptly ends. You don’t see the masked man again later in the film so it left me slightly perplexed who the character was.

Overall the film for me became better in the latter stages. The overall narrative improves as things start to escalate and the mysteries unravel and you get to learn more about Spiral. You needed to see the first part for anything in the later stages to make sense as some of what happens in the latter stages is set earlier in the film, which for me is a great way to write a film as it kept me interested throughout and I found myself wanting to find out more which is the sign of a successful story.

I think Minihan may have left the story open at the end for a follow up or sequel as without giving any spoilers things happen in the end part that don’t really have an answer also as the film comes to a close you see an Asian family moving into the house and finding a CD-ROM (it is set in ‘95) warning about Spiral, so I’m thinking maybe an underlying race hate theme could be in the offing but I could be wrong.

Spiral dealt with very difficult theme throughout, the subject of LGBTQ hate that happens in everyday society with sometimes sickening effects and to explain it in such a way as a thought provoking horror was indeed an interesting way of doing things, I personally think that Bowyer-Chapman did a stellar job portraying a mentally wounded black gay man who has grown strong to fight the injustices he faces everyday. Seeing the Asian family move into the house at the end was an interesting situation for me as I said a bit earlier that it has left it open for another film with that one focusing on the equally hard discussion of race hate, definitely a film I would want to see if it is written anything like this one.


An interesting film, covers some hard hitting social themes and does it well, if slightly long winded at times, but a good overall end product.


Written by Colin Minihan (writer of the Shudder Original Z and the upcoming Urban Legend) and John Poliquin (Selfie), directed by Kurtis David Harder (Summerland, Incontrol).
Spiral is produced by Minihan, Harder, and John Poliquin for Digital Interference, the celebrated Canadian indie label behind the SXSW sensation What Keep’s You Alive (released by IFC Midnight), Shudder Originals Z and Still/Born, and the cult- hit Grave Encounters.

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