50 / 100
Watchable Minutes : 30 / 93. There’s nothing particularly great about this movie. It’s got ok bones, but it’s not pretty.
Trailer Comparison : The trailer for Spiral pretty much gave you all the beats you need to understand the movie. What you see is what you’re gonna get.
Move or Film : Spiral, just like the 8 or 9 other movies in the franchise, is a gore filled brutalist approach to movie making. It’s unsettling and grimey.
- Run time : 1 hr 33 mins
- Studio : Lionsgate
- Director : Darren Lynn Bousman
- Where to Watch : Theatrical Release only, not available for rent at current date (5/16/2021)
Years after the final Jigsaw murder is believed to have died, a new killer with a similar passion for punishing games that often end in death is prowling the streets. When a cop is killed at the hands of the Jigsaw copycat, Zeke Banks is assigned to lead the investigation with his new partner William Schenk. As the case gets more difficult to solve with more cops dying at the hands of this Jigsaw disciple, Zeke starts to unravel the conspiracy of his precinct and those closest to him.
Spiral : From the Book of Saw, or just Spiral as I’ll call it from here on out is a movie that didn’t need to be made. Like at all. It’s such a weird mishmash of pieces that don’t work and I have a hard time believing that many people are nostalgic enough for the early 2000s already to want a reboot + sequel to SAW. My gut tells me that the success of the latest Halloween movie is what we can blame for Spiral being made. Halloween (2018) made the smart choice of retconning it’s entire universe by completely wiping out all the sequels and reboots from years past. The latest installment is a direct sequel to the original slasher classic by John Carpenter. It’s a move that worked well and has sparked renewed interest in the franchise.
Spiral is confusing in that it didn’t mention any of the other movies. It made the assumption that Jigsaw was dead and he might be, who knows? He had cancer at the end of the first movie, which is why he was doing what he was doing. I think it left the door open to include those older sequels if they do plan on making yet another movie, but until the success of Spiral is measured and profitable, it will pretend they don’t exist. By leaving it ambiguous, I don’t have the same feelings towards it that I had with Halloween (2018). The story was very difficult to take seriously, but I appreciate the effort that was made to get away from the past dynamic of killing bad people and killing bad cops instead. It’s not original, but it was slightly different enough to earn some points. The relationship that Chris Rock’s character Zeke had with his father and the rest of the precinct was interesting as well, but not enough to carry the entire movie. One big gripe is that Chris Rock is hilarious and I’m sure cops can be funny too, but they didn’t let him be funny a little bit. The humor that Zeke had was just crass and jaded.
For what it’s worth, Chris Rock was far from the worst thing about this movie. I actually only saw it because I wanted to see him do something different. Many comedians and funny actors have broken the mold to create dramatic and serious smash hit movies. Like Michael Peele with Get Out or John Krasinski with A Quiet Place. This just wasn’t the one for Chris Rock. And Samuel L Jackson didn’t need to be in this movie either, but star power puts butts in seats and sells tickets. Zeke’s father could have easily have been killed in the line of duty by another cop instead and the story would have remained unchanged. They still could have gone through all the motions and locations in pretty much the same way in order to reach the climax of the movie. I would have skipped one star and put the budget into sending the script into a writers room for a few more months. I’m not saying I could do better, but I think that there was plenty left on the table to create a more compelling movie.
The cinematography and soundtrack was very reminiscent of the original SAW. It was violent and sped up, which created a motion sick insect sort of vibe to the whole movie. The traps and deaths were gruesome and disgusting. But it all fell short when it reached the climax of the movie and left the door open to yet another sequel. Can we just put this franchise to bed already and reboot Nightmare on Elm Street again instead? I think it’s time to shift gears and spin that franchise up again. Or, I don’t know, come up with some original IP for once.
Overall, Spiral was not worth the price of admission. I was fooled into watching it in theaters out of pure boredom and the desire to get back into a theater for the first time in 18 months. Not even the popcorn was good at the theater I went to so it was just a poor movie experience in general. Save yourself the trouble and skip Spiral unless you want a bad movie marathon.
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