The Spiral Staircase Reviews

  • Sep 04, 2020

    The Spiral Staircase is an old-fashioned murder mystery. All the residents of a household are locked together during a storm, and we are told that one of them is probably a serial killer. Among the people that live there is a mute girl who has been told she might be the next victim. Naturally, there are some complications for her because she struggles to communicate with others. I appreciate the atmosphere of this film, and the overall grim tone of the story. I also love the fact that they take time to establish the geography of the house, so that we have a general idea where things are, and when someone might be trapped with nowhere to run. It’s a dark and mysterious place, and all the characters who live there are also suspicious. This never feels like a place that would be seen as safe, and it didn’t surprise me when the police implied that there was a killer who lived there. While I always relish a good murder mystery, I did feel that The Spiral Staircase was missing a little something to make it work as well as others in the genre. There are characters who behave illogically, and it stands out even more when they’ve been warned. Our heroine has been told more than once that she should get away, and stay away, but she continues to drag her feet rather than leaving with the doctor who wants to save her. But the bigger flaw in this mystery is that there aren’t enough suspects. The house already has a limited number of residents, and there are many that you can eliminate as viable options within moments of meeting them. When they get closer to the reveal there are only 2 possible killers, and anyone who’s seen a film before can probably figure it out. I still think The Spiral Staircase is a solid movie because of the way the story was presented, plus there’s a nice little surprise at the end, it was merely the mystery itself that let me down a little.

    The Spiral Staircase is an old-fashioned murder mystery. All the residents of a household are locked together during a storm, and we are told that one of them is probably a serial killer. Among the people that live there is a mute girl who has been told she might be the next victim. Naturally, there are some complications for her because she struggles to communicate with others. I appreciate the atmosphere of this film, and the overall grim tone of the story. I also love the fact that they take time to establish the geography of the house, so that we have a general idea where things are, and when someone might be trapped with nowhere to run. It’s a dark and mysterious place, and all the characters who live there are also suspicious. This never feels like a place that would be seen as safe, and it didn’t surprise me when the police implied that there was a killer who lived there. While I always relish a good murder mystery, I did feel that The Spiral Staircase was missing a little something to make it work as well as others in the genre. There are characters who behave illogically, and it stands out even more when they’ve been warned. Our heroine has been told more than once that she should get away, and stay away, but she continues to drag her feet rather than leaving with the doctor who wants to save her. But the bigger flaw in this mystery is that there aren’t enough suspects. The house already has a limited number of residents, and there are many that you can eliminate as viable options within moments of meeting them. When they get closer to the reveal there are only 2 possible killers, and anyone who’s seen a film before can probably figure it out. I still think The Spiral Staircase is a solid movie because of the way the story was presented, plus there’s a nice little surprise at the end, it was merely the mystery itself that let me down a little.

  • Jul 22, 2020

    It is still surprisingly effective.

    It is still surprisingly effective.

  • May 07, 2019

    The best thrilling movie ever made!

    The best thrilling movie ever made!

  • Dec 30, 2018

    It was a good movie but unfortunately I went in with high expectations and imo the movie fell short of them. I consider it more noir than horror, but I guess back in the 40s this must''ve been a scary noir film. The performances were ok, the problem imo was the plot. It lagged at times and didn't have enough exciting moments.

    It was a good movie but unfortunately I went in with high expectations and imo the movie fell short of them. I consider it more noir than horror, but I guess back in the 40s this must''ve been a scary noir film. The performances were ok, the problem imo was the plot. It lagged at times and didn't have enough exciting moments.

  • Aug 22, 2017

    Excellent film!!! So underrated. Great atmospheric film with superb performances and a genuinely surprising ending.

    Excellent film!!! So underrated. Great atmospheric film with superb performances and a genuinely surprising ending.

  • Mar 12, 2017

    This is a classic film-noir from Robert Siodmak who made a few great films. This one is heavily influenced in style by German Expressionism is and very stylistically shot. The story is basically a whodunit and is pretty tense at times. The downside for me is that I didn't love a lot of the performances. Worth a watch for film fans for the style alone though.

    This is a classic film-noir from Robert Siodmak who made a few great films. This one is heavily influenced in style by German Expressionism is and very stylistically shot. The story is basically a whodunit and is pretty tense at times. The downside for me is that I didn't love a lot of the performances. Worth a watch for film fans for the style alone though.

  • Aug 21, 2016

    A good old fashioned suspense picture, with vaguely simian Dorothy McGuire as a mute woman working in a mansion for a bedridden, scenery chewing Ethel Barrymore. There's a serial killer out there, and he's killing women who have physical deformities: what will happen to our heroine? This would be fun to watch on a stormy fall night.

    A good old fashioned suspense picture, with vaguely simian Dorothy McGuire as a mute woman working in a mansion for a bedridden, scenery chewing Ethel Barrymore. There's a serial killer out there, and he's killing women who have physical deformities: what will happen to our heroine? This would be fun to watch on a stormy fall night.

  • Jun 27, 2016

    Solid little Hitchcockian thriller about a mute servant girl working in a British home that may be hiding a killer. It's a well crafted thriller from director Robert Siodmak, but I think my main complaint is that I found the formal British stiff upper lip demeanor of the household in question off putting. I'm not going to argue that Hitchcock's British thrillers were particularly realistic, but I would say that character actions an motivations seemed more grounded in reality and not as tied to British decorum. Still, this film has some wonderful atmosphere and some terrific black and white photography. Well worth watching.

    Solid little Hitchcockian thriller about a mute servant girl working in a British home that may be hiding a killer. It's a well crafted thriller from director Robert Siodmak, but I think my main complaint is that I found the formal British stiff upper lip demeanor of the household in question off putting. I'm not going to argue that Hitchcock's British thrillers were particularly realistic, but I would say that character actions an motivations seemed more grounded in reality and not as tied to British decorum. Still, this film has some wonderful atmosphere and some terrific black and white photography. Well worth watching.

  • May 27, 2015

    A melodramatic but effective thriller that establishes great atmosphere with its use of mood lighting and music.

    A melodramatic but effective thriller that establishes great atmosphere with its use of mood lighting and music.

  • Feb 11, 2015

    Because Alfred Hitchcock was such a master of suspense, and he always seemed to grasp his powers incrementally over the years, I have found delving into his classic older pictures as rewarding, but less enjoyable--given the height of his powers during his latter directorial days. However, compared to '39 Steps,' 'Strangers on a Train,' 'Shadow of a Doubt,' and 'Suspicion,' which are admirable and groundbreaking, 'The Spiral Staircase,' is a self-contained masterpiece with an unfaltering sense suspense, romance, psychological ramifications, and treachery. With very few missteps, this quintessential rainy night at the mansion thriller, director Robert Siodmak, admirably does with Hitchcock's keen sense of timing, framing, and editing what most modern films fail to do: keep the mystery and macabre on a short leash with an economy that today's special effects and GCI seldom muster.

    Because Alfred Hitchcock was such a master of suspense, and he always seemed to grasp his powers incrementally over the years, I have found delving into his classic older pictures as rewarding, but less enjoyable--given the height of his powers during his latter directorial days. However, compared to '39 Steps,' 'Strangers on a Train,' 'Shadow of a Doubt,' and 'Suspicion,' which are admirable and groundbreaking, 'The Spiral Staircase,' is a self-contained masterpiece with an unfaltering sense suspense, romance, psychological ramifications, and treachery. With very few missteps, this quintessential rainy night at the mansion thriller, director Robert Siodmak, admirably does with Hitchcock's keen sense of timing, framing, and editing what most modern films fail to do: keep the mystery and macabre on a short leash with an economy that today's special effects and GCI seldom muster.