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SPIRAL (2019)

Spooky thriller finds a gay couple, Malik (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman) and Aaron (Ari Cohen) moving into a suburban town with their daughter Kayla (Jennifer Laporte). Malik is still suffering trauma from a vicious hate crime perpetrated against he and a former lover and starts to feel something is not right in this town from the moment they move in. Aaron thinks it’s all in his head, but Malik comes to believe their is something very sinister going on here and it has set it’s sights on them. Is he being paranoid?…or is there evil here beyond small town, narrow-minded prejudice?

Horror is very well directed by Kurtis David Harder from a strong and smart script by Colin Minihan (What Keeps Us Alive) and┬áJohn Poliquin. The story deftly mixes social commentary about the prejudice and hate homosexuals endure at times, with a very unsettling yet more traditional horror scenario. Kurtis David Harder creates some very tense, atmospheric and spooky scenes, as poor Malik is manipulated and isolated from the people he loves by something sinister…or is he? We are kept guessing, for quite some time, as to whether Malik’s emotional trauma isn’t letting some simple prejudices and the ominous warnings of an old townie, “spiral” out of control in his head. It’s heartbreaking to see Malik, tormented, broken down and separated from his loved ones, whether it be mental or supernatural, and the last act is very disturbing and chilling, once we find out whether this is a result of past trauma, or something far more diabolical. The cast is very good, especially a strong, emotionally charged performance by Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman as Malik. The players also include horror vets Lochlyn Munro (Freddy vs Jason) and Chandra West (Shudder’s Z, Puppet Master 4 & 5), who evoke Get Out, as neighbors who seem a bit too welcoming to the gay couple to be legit. Kurtis David Harder is a director to keep an eye on and co-writer/producer Colin Minihan once again proves he’s a filmmaker more people should be talking about. A very chilling and relevant Shudder Original streaming now.

-MonsterZero NJ

three and one half stars rating