What Kurtis David Harder truly succeeds with his new horror film, Spiral, is drawing on the familiar reality of how devastating a single act of trauma can stalk your life for the rest of your life. When you walk into a room. How you interact and talk with people. Trauma can change you.
And Harder uses that trauma to give a voice to ostracization and otherness while at the same time, motivate you to never trust your neighbors.
Jeffery Bowyer-Chapman (American Horror Story) and Ari Cohen (It: Chapter 2) play Malik and Aaron. A same-sex, mixed race couple, intent on a new quieter life away from the big city. Determined to make this small American every-town the ideal place to raise their sixteen-year-old daughter, Web of Dreams’ Jennifer Laporte. However, after Malik witnesses, something strange happening in his neighbor’s house, Malik’s life quickly changes.
In a tour-de-force for Bowyer-Chapman, Malik is questioning if the paranoia and hostility he’s receiving from his neighbors is brought on from the trauma he suffered in his youth or if it’s actually real is pushed, at times, by some terrific direction from Harder, into what feels like a loving homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window.
Favoring old-school camera tricks and cuts and some really terrific sound design and music cues, Harder pushes Malik to the brink as his life spirals out of control as he tears down the walls of this small town and the views of society as a whole. Harder offers us a classic slow burn and picks and chooses his horror moments.
Instead of directly relying on shock value, he adds weight and credence to his scares by pushing Bowyer-Chapman into one hell of a great performance. Even when Harder goes full horror genre, writers, Colin Minahan (the upcoming Urban Legend remake) and John Poliquin (the Bitten series) keep the story firmly grounded into a story that feels one part Rear Window and one part Get Out.
This team allows us to really engage with this family in the first act as Ari Cohan and Jennifer Laporte instill the heart that this story needs. And Riverdale’s Lochlyn Munro plays off Bowyer-Chapman incredibly well to fantastic and unsettling performance.
While not without its flaws, Spiral is a solid slow-burn film driven by a great performance from Jeffery Bowyer-Chapman that is well work 3.5 out of 5 stars. Be sure to watch this with the lights on.