Small Beginnings

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Fans of Manga may be familiar with the name Junji Ito. He has authored several horror works, including Uzumaki, which has also been made into a movie.

I bring this up because of the premise of Uzumaki. A town is under a curse involving spirals. As a result, the people of the town are obsessed with and paranoid of spirals. There's a whole plot with a character's hair starting to spiral and draining life energy and so on. The concept I'd like to extract here is how this escalates, and how it might be applied to a haunt.
If you saw a character with spirals in her hair, you might think it merely whimsical.

What if the spiral motif continued into more things - and more horrible things?

What if the spirals actually started to consume the people?

I feel like this could be applied effectively in a haunt. Sure, it could be spirals. Spirals on the doorknob, spirals in picture frames, banisters, whatever. More and more disturbing spirals as you go deeper into the house - coiled whips, a man whose arm is coiled up like a rope, etc. However, couldn't you take any small thing and grow it?

Maybe it's triangles and pyramids. But maybe it's bugs - start with decorative beetles, say. Little toy beetles or beetles on the picture frame leading to an insect infestation. An infestation leading to human beetle mutations, and maybe a monster beetle in the end? Or pictures of dogs turning to pictures of wolves, then actual wolves, then werewolves? Maybe it's question marks, then hook hands, then victims hanging on hooks. Too on the nose?
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The brain is always making associations. The point is to start with a small and seemingly innocuous thing. Maybe start with a fun and whimsical thing like spirals in a hairdo - and expanding upon it, taking it in weird and unexpected directions until it is a thing of terror. Maybe they wouldn't even catch onto it right away. They might simply overlook the small things at the beginning and only remember the final monster. Still, the thread would be there. Waiting for them to find it the next time they come through. Maybe waiting for the next time they see another beetle or spiral and a cold chill runs through them and they think of your haunt.