The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
Based on what the trailer to this film showed me, it looked like a Jordan Peele knockoff at best. I love Peele’s work, and I enjoy the thriller/horror genre in general, so I figured I would give it a chance.
The direction of the horror and suspense did not lead the plot to its intended destination and instead was more of a crutch to get to a confusing climax, and then the story almost went nowhere. I found myself saying, “okay…but?” and that question never gets answered. Kurtis David Harder is a young director, at only 26-years old, he has a lot of potential in front of him, and I am sure he will go on to do great things but this just was not it.
A gay, racially-mixed couple, Malik (Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman) and Aaron (Ari Cohen) move to a quiet, small town to raise their teenage daughter, Kayla (Jennifer Laporte). The town feels strange immediately upon their arrival, which sends Malik searching for an explanation. This plot is very direct from the beginning and obviously gets more complicated as time progresses and pushes Malik to relive his unpleasant past.
The film takes a direction and then ends up taking a pretty cheap route to tie it up at the end without really giving any pay off. I understand the message that is trying to be delivered to the audience that is deeper than the baseline question it confronts. That’s where the ball gets dropped.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman was the best part of the film, as he solely carried it throughout the short 90-minute runtime. The other performances were one dimensional, forgettable, and for the most part--predictable.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
... It Looked Like A Jordan Peele Knockoff At Best
There are two notable scenes where there are decent special effects that are well done. Otherwise, there is nothing memorable here and nothing that we haven’t seen before a bunch of times in other films and shows. There was such basicness to where the plot was going that the visuals don’t even shock in their reveals. I found it to be more so confusing and disgusting than to service the story, or anything else.
Spiral (2020) | SHUDDER
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
I lost count of how many times the music swelled to reveal absolutely nothing. I understand using eerie sound to create suspense and fear--but there is a time and a place, not to mention a limit on where and how much it should be used. When this is done strategically, it absolutely works. That does not happen here.
I really take pride in being able to find the good in all films and appreciate the art for what it is. SPIRAL was a disappointment for me, it just fell flat in so many ways. I wanted to enjoy it, but I just could not wait for it to be over and to never revisit it. I kept desiring for it to “all come together in the end” but it just didn’t. Maybe a second viewing would reveal more, but I am not even willing to waste my time in doing so.