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Spiral: From the Book of Saw – A Welcome Addition to the Saw Franchise

June 5, 2021

Quick thoughts – B- – Spiral: From the Book of Saw is a glossy continuation of the Saw saga that is made better by the presence of Chris Rock.

Directed by Saw veteran Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II, Saw III, Saw IV), Spiral is a welcome addition to the Saw franchise as it provides new characters, decent kills, and an entirely new plot that doesn’t need to tie other films together. It’s neat that Chris Rock was a fan of the franchise, and after pitching an idea to Lionsgate, they let him star in the film, and be an executive producer. The end result never reaches the iconic heights of the 2004 original, but it’s fun watching Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson being a part of the Saw world.

Spiral revolves around a “game” loving murderer who is killing off corrupt police detectives in wildly intricate ways. The kills are reminiscent of the Jigsaw murders from years prior, and once again (like in the OG franchise) the killer singles out a police detective named Zeke Banks (Chris Rock), and his new partner William Schenk (Max Minghella) for the games. Banks is an interesting choice to take lead on the case, as he is universally disliked in his precinct because years prior he turned in his corrupt partner after he killed a witness. This leads to Zeke being shot when other detectives ignored his backup calls, and he’s only kept on the force because his dad Marcus Banks (Samuel L. Jackson), is a famous local detective who makes sure nobody else harasses him. 

What follows is a fun mystery that involves ripped out tongues, glass shards, and creepy puppets. It’s fun watching Chris Rock in full-detective mode, and you buy into his sweat-drenched character as he struggles with finding the killer, and dealing with a precinct of corrupt detectives who don’t want to help him. The kills in the film aren’t memorable like the reverse bear trap, shotgun carousel, or the needle pit games that still induce nightmares. However, they do provide a wicked charm and don’t feel too familiar after eight movies worth of gruesome traps. 

The cinematography by Jordan Oram, the guy who shot music videos for Drake, Usher, Coldplay, and Future (watch the Life is Good short) is much-less grungy than Saw 1-7, and still somehow more grungy than Jigsaw (which is good). Also, the costume design by Laura Montgomery (What We Do in the Shadows) is solid, and it’s nice seeing people wearing sweaty clothes as they inhabit an extremely hot city (this is rarer than you think). The script by Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger (they also wrote Jigsaw) gives away a few killer hints early on, but still provides enough twists-and-turns to make the 93 minutes fly by.

Final thoughts – It never captures the gritty glory of the 2004 film, but Spiral does enough to provide a bloody good time.

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