The Spiral Staircase

I am basically the worst person in the world. Caught up in my own shenanigans, I have either refused to post about a film or have stared blankly at the empty page for the last couple of weeks. To make up for it, I will be posting a lot today. Let me know what you think of my choices of horror films and any suggestions you have for me in the comments.

Is someone who has a physical or mental disability less of a person than someone who can function normally? Does not being able to speak, walk or hold a spoon correctly make you a prime candidate for early extermination? These are the questions The Spiral Staircase seeks to answer in the most suspenseful way possible.

Helen is a beautiful young mute who works in a mansion in a small town. Throughout the town there has been a string of murders that have targeted people with disabilities. The people surrounding Helen fear that she may be next. Each member of the family that resides in the mansion go about their own ways of warning her and yet she cannot speak for herself and tell anyone her opinion on the situation. While the plot thickens the suspects narrow and the pursuit becomes intense.

What I like about this film is that no one is ruled out as a suspect until the very end. That is a hard thing to pull off in traditional suspense films. Usually you can tell who the exact killer is once you see him for the first time. But in this film it could have been a number of people including the master of the house, his estranged half-brother, the groundskeeper, the friendly doctor,  the nurse or even the old sickly woman. Each one has a motive, a creepy vibe to them and a way to get her alone. This film could have easily been made by Hitchcock. That is a compliment despite how it reads. The plethora of almost scares feels the most Hitchcockian to me. For instance after discovering a window had been opened during an intense storm, the cook leaves and immediately after you hear a thud. Thinking that she has just been killed by the murderer, the mute girl rushes over only to find a cute bulldog laying coyly on the floor. The maid had just tripped over the sneaky dog and hurt her hip. It not only relieves the tension, but it also makes you wonder at how easily a viewer can get ramped up into believing a noise or a motion will result in death. We have been conditioned so much by traditional scary films to believe that there is complications around every corner, but that is never how real life is.

I like films that play with your expectations. The Spiral Staircase does not seem to take anything too seriously until it absolutely has to. It is refreshing to watch something like this after submitting my brain to unrelenting drama and horrors.


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