The Spiral Staircase

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"There's always another twist to..."
  • Approved
  • 1975
  • 4.7  (595)

The 1975 film The Spiral Staircase, directed by Peter Collinson, is a psychological thriller that takes place in a small town in the early 20th century. The movie stars Jacqueline Bisset as Helen, a young woman who works as a live-in caregiver for an elderly, wealthy woman named Mrs. Warren (Ethel Barrymore). Christopher Plummer plays Dr. Parry, a well-respected physician who is also a charismatic but manipulative person. John Phillip Law plays the role of Stephen, the son of a wealthy family who becomes romantically interested in Helen.

The movie starts with a murder of a woman with a physical disability by an unknown assailant. The killer is still at large and local authorities are working to solve the case. Mrs. Warren, who has a severe medical condition that has made her bedridden for years, is terrified and wants to have her staff protected. She hires Helen to stay with her after her previous nurse leaves.

Helen arrives at the Warren mansion and begins her work. She is not there long before strange things start happening. She hears noises, has vivid nightmares, and gets stalked by someone wearing a black cloak. The police are alerted, but they don't find any evidence of an intruder. The mystery deepens when it becomes apparent that the killer is targeting women with physical disabilities, just like Mrs. Warren.

Dr. Parry becomes interested in Helen and takes every opportunity to be around her. He offers her a job at his clinic, but she declines, as she wants to stay with Mrs. Warren. Dr. Parry is also a suspect in the case, as he has a strange fascination with women who are unable to walk. As the story unfolds, it is revealed that Parry has a dark past, which he is trying to keep hidden.

Stephen, who had previously been engaged to a woman who had a physical disability and who has a history of mental illness, becomes smitten with Helen. He wants to whisk her away, and they make plans to elope. However, the killer has other plans, and it becomes a race against time to solve the case before anyone else is harmed.

The Spiral Staircase's plot twists and turns in unexpected directions, serving up plenty of suspenseful moments. The film is elevated by its strong performances, particularly Jacqueline Bisset's. She plays her part with depth and sensitivity, making her character sympathetic and intelligent. Christopher Plummer is excellent as the charming but sinister Dr. Parry, while John Phillip Law delivers a solid performance as the wealthy Stephen, who has a conflicted past.

Visually, The Spiral Staircase is also impressive, with the art direction capturing the period in which it is set. The mansion where Mrs. Warren and Helen stay is eerie and claustrophobic, making the audience feel like they're trapped in a dark corner of history.

Overall, The Spiral Staircase is an excellently crafted thriller that keeps the audience guessing right up to the end. Its strong performances and atmospheric visuals make it a must-watch for fans of the genre.

The Spiral Staircase
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    4.7  (595)