Inside Out 2020: Our Review of ‘Spiral’

Inside Out 2020: Our Review of ‘Spiral’

Malik (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman) and Aaron (Ari Cohen) take themselves and their daughter Kayla (Jennifer Laporte) from Chicago to some small town. At first, the move is fine for Malik, a struggling writer who takes spec jobs for money. But he’s starting to notice that their new house is creakier than usual. The same goes with his strange neighbors. One of them hands him a piece of paper. That encounter reveals that Malik put a security system in his home without Aaron’s permission. They disagree about the necessity that system, but this is a horror film so they do need it.

Malik notices stranger things happening to him and this new house, like a dead animal in their attic. That’s scary enough, but Spiral, sharing its name with the new Saw installment, can’t help itself but to belabor the point. Nighttime scenes have bad lighting, and it accompanies those visuals with well, you guessed it, creepy screechy violin music. What’s worse is that while Malik is paying attention to validly scary things, Aaron brushes those concerns aside. It doesn’t help that Malik has a past trauma, a trauma that Aaron barely addresses like a good pre-gay marriage husband should do.

Speaking of belaboring the point, Spiral chooses the early to mid 90s as its setting, a time when progress met retrograde attitudes. Malik visits the house of his most suspicious neighbor, Marshal, (Lochlyn Munro) which, why? Eventually Marshal tells Malik that there’s “So much change happening in the world, yet so much seems to just stay the same. Do you know what I mean”. Dogwhistle, much? Anyway, Oscar winners can’t make miracles out of those lines and neither can Munro. For the curious, Bowyer-Chapman is decent but he can only do so much with this script. The fest’s first dud.

After the festival, audiences can stream Spiral on Shudder, if they dare.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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