They just don’t make them like this anymore. The story takes it’s time to unravel and let us in on what is happening. Instead of a mystery with a detective that we follow thru it is left to the audience to sort things out. I really liked that. Right from the start where we see a mysterious figure lurking behind our first victim you know that we the audience are going to be a sort of participant in the movie. This helps to build an air of tension that keeps your focus on what his happening as well as rooting for Helen as a sympathetic character. I understand that this might not play well to a younger audience but honestly if you put your phone down and focus on what you are watching there are a lot of subtle things you will appreciate.
The performances are all solid. The best is from Dorothy McGuire as Helen. She has to carry the movie with her performance which is a tall order before you realize that she has to do so without any dialogue! Despite that she creates a sympathetic protagonist that you can and will root for. You don’t only get her thought as Elsa Lanchester, the Bride of Frankenstein, shows up in a supporting role as the household’s cook.
me there is nothing spookier then a properly light and shot black and white
movie. The Spiral Staircase does all of this very well. The use of the shadows
with figures seeming to emerge and disappear into and out of scenes is amazing.
This is accomplished with wonderful camera placement as well as minimal
lighting. They also use some interesting tricks including showing the eyes of
the killer and another bit where we get to see how he or she sees their
victims. There is a shot where we see thru the killer’s eyes as they look at
Helen seeing her face without a mouth.
It promises a spiral staircase and delivers!
There are some flaws with the movie. We get far too many suspects, many of whom are easy to dismiss. Plus there is a dead give away that you might notice when the killer is first introduced that could spoil the thing. But compared to the overall qualities of the movie these are minor and aren’t a deal breaker for me. I highly recommend checking out The Spiral Staircase. I know that it is frequently on cable, Turner Classic Movies I think, so set your DVR.
© Copyright 2022 John Shatzer