Spiral rebrands the games of the SAW franchise for a new generation of horror
Spiral is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and comes to us from the Book of Saw: the legendary Horrow series that featured the killer Jigsaw. Much like Creed aims to take the Rocky franchise forward while building its own legacy, Spiral plans to introduce a whole new generation of movie goers to its particularly twisted brand of traps and justice.
Spiral is set in a post Jigsaw world and introduces us to Detective Ezekiel Banks, known as Zeke’. He is the son of the formal police chief and is an honest police officer which in this precent appears to make him disliked by his colleagues as a ‘rat’. Zeke works alone and years in the job have made him cynical and pessimistic. The emergence of a new serial killer targeting police officers forces them to all work together. From this point on, Spiral follows the template of every previous SAW movie before. Don’t expect any surprises
Being a fan of Chris Rock’s comedy, I always struggle taking him serious in dramatic roles. Unfortunately, this is the same here, as Chris is visibly trying his best to act, which makes him seem strained and uncomfortable at times. And the thing with acting is, if the audience can see you doing it, it can’t be particularly good! That isn’t to say he wasn’t entertaining. In fact, his best parts are when he is comfortable making wise cracks, insulting people, or discussing important topics like why there was no Forest Gump 2!
Related: Samuel L Jackson is the Master Assassin training the next generation of killer in The Protege. Trailer here
I am rarely disappointed by Samuel L Jackson, and this is no different. Despite his volume of work, he never ‘phones it in’. He seems to always commit to his roles fully and while yes, he plays himself in all his parts, if you enjoy watching Samuel L Jackson then why would you complain?! The other characters are serviceable, no one really stood out
Traps were the meat and bones of the SAW franchise, and they continue to be the best thing about the films going forward. The killer takes a victim and places them in a deadly trap where the only means of escape is through making an equally horrific decision to seriously injure or mame yourself to escape. These traps are individualised based on the particular crimes of the victim e.g., a cop that has been repeatedly lying under oath in court must decide between losing their tongue or dying in a terrible way. It’s the worst kind of punishment because it gives the victim hope of escape by hurting themself, making them partially responsible for their own pain.
If you have ever seen a SAW movie, you know exactly what to expect here, there is no intention to remake the wheel but to continue the franchise in a new direction with a new cast of characters but enough easter eggs and references to the past to satisfy long-time fans of the series. If you don’t like the SAW franchise, then why are you here? Spiral is unlikely to win you over and if you are here as a fan of Chris Rock or Samuel L Jackson, there are better places to see them do what they individually do best. Spiral is full of blood, guts, gore, body parts and a killer with a twisted sense of morality and justice.
I would have liked them to be a bit braver with this relaunch and even attempted to spin a more complex story, where we were more invested in the victims and the identity of the killer. This sits in the horror genre, but I didn’t find it scary at all. Spiral is all about the Traps and the creative ways to kill people on screen. It makes no secret of the fact they are hoping to follow this with a sequel leading on to a whole series of Spiral films, but I guess that will be down to whether the audience still have an appetite for this kind of ‘torture porn,’