The newest addition to the Saw franchise, Spiral: From the Book of Saw, is a tongue-ripping, spine-severing good time. The film is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, who has now directed four of the nine films, and the original creators of the series, James Wan and Leigh Whannell, also were executive producers on the film alongside Chris Rock.
Chris Rock stars in the film as Zeke Banks, a Metro cop with baggage. Zeke’s father Marcus was police chief during the time that Zeke turned in his own partner as a dirty cop. As a result of this, the police force has a nasty attitude towards Zeke, leaving dead rats on his desk and not backing him up when he needs it. The new police chief, Angie Garza, decides Zeke needs a partner to keep him straight. She assigns Zeke to train William Schenk, a rookie raring to go.
When Zeke and William are assigned a new case, everyone thinks it is just cut and dry – a homeless man got ran over in the subway. Zeke and William investigate, and they discover the murder has shocking similarities to the Jigsaw murders, even though John Kramer has been dead ten years.
When the victim is revealed to be a cop from their station, the stakes are raised. The killer begins targeting the Metro police and Zeke and William race to beat the copycat killer.
The writers, directors, and producers of this film nailed what we come to expect from a Saw film. The traps are classic Saw: smart, gory, with a reason the victim is being punished as such. While the movie does extensively use standard good cop/bad cop stereotypes (the good cop who is ostracized for turning in a bad cop, the greasy no-good cop, the hardened police chief), its uniqueness radiates.
This film does many of the things that Jordan Peele’s Get Out did for the horror genre. Production created a horror film that is diverse in skin color and gender. Much of the musical score is rap, and the producers did not shy away from creating a film that shows Blackness and Black culture in its forefront. The message of the copycat killer in the film is clear as well: police brutality and misuse of power must be controlled. This film is timely, diverse, and classic Saw. There is nothing to lament in this newest installment. The perspective is fresh, and while police tropes are used, it is necessary to the execution of the overall message.
While I can see critics’ point that the film’s plot is elementary, I see this simple cat-and-mouse plot as an attempt to return to the origins of the Saw franchise. Yes, it is simple. There is a killer; we must find him before he plucks off every cop in the precinct. If you are a die-hard Saw fan, you will know who the killer is immediately halfway through the film. I only found this made the film endearing, as if it was praising long-term fans for their devotion by giving them a little sneak peek of answers before it is revealed to all.
As for the ending that critics take issue with, I found it to be powerfully messaged and biblical in nature. Without giving too much away, watch it again and consider the action of crucifixion and the inability of controlling the action that was executed.
This film draws on classic Saw morals and messages while updating it to a more diverse, complicated world. Many have said they step into the film world to escape the truths of today and found the messages in Spiral to be overwhelming and too political. The personal is political, and Chris Rock brought an important issue to the big screen in a way that was entertaining but will also leave an impression in the minds of its viewers. Seemingly simple on the surface, Spiral: From the Book of Saw has much more to offer down below.
Bonus: Samuel L. Jackson stars in the film, and if you are a Pulp Fiction fan, there’s a cute Easter Egg for you! Check out the name of the safe company on the door Chris Rock walks past – Vincent & Jules safe company!(4 / 5)
If you do want to watch this and make your own decision, it is available from the comfort of your own home. Just click on through and if you buy, we do get some $$.