Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman’s (Saw II, Repo! The Genetic Opera), Spiral: from the Book of Saw is approaching Blu-ray and DVD release. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release since the moment the news broke, I’ve long been a fan of Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, and Bousman. Last night, I grabbed some snacks and settled down to check it out. But did it live up to the hype?
The movie follows Zeke (Chris Rock), a detective who has long been an outcast in his precinct after he ratted out his partner for murdering an innocent man. Saddled with a new partner, Detective William Schenk (Max Minghella), Zeke is sent to a crime scene where a man was hung by his tongue before being hit by a train. But it’s not just any man, it’s a cop and a close friend of Zeke’s. Soon bodies begin to stack up and body parts begin to be delivered to Zeke. All the victims have two things in common, they’re dirty cops, and all die in Jigsaw-inspired traps. When Zeke’s former police chief father (Samuel. L. Jackson) goes missing Zeke is on a mission to find him before it’s too late.
The movie wastes no time kicking off the action with the first kill, a gnarly one at that. As with any Saw franchise movie, all of the kills are trap-related, except for one, a skinned body hanging in a butcher shop, which is clearly a distraction. In Spiral you’ll see appendages ripped off, bodies stripped of flesh, and a whole lot of blood, everything gorehounds love.
Rock’s acting style stayed true in Spiral, like the Rock we all know and love, but he turns up the seriousness and lets go of the comedy. He played Zeke 100% straight. The film is even based on an idea by Rock. Samuel L. Jackson played the same cop role we’ve seen him play again and again, like the one in Snakes on A Plane, which was a little disappointing. I would have loved to have seen him play something different, something unexpected. As for Minghella, he’s pretty much in the same mode the entire movie. We just don’t see a lot of emotion from him and his character tries a little too hard to cozzie up to Zeke.
Unlike in Saw, several of the traps in Spiral seem to be inescapable on purpose, with not enough time allowed to actually give victims a fighting chance. These traps were more of a tool than a game. It’s absolutely clear that the villain has no interest in seeing them atone for their sins. He just wants them dead. Of course, later in the film, we learn that all the deaths are connected by one event.
Instead of the message of cherishing your life like with Saw, we get a politicized film that takes aim at not only corrupt law enforcement but also their record for shooting first and asking questions later as well as their treatment of African American men both in law enforcement and on the street.
It does have one major flaw, in my opinion, it is predictable. It took me less than ten minutes to figure out who the killer was and it only took one line, “I’ve been waiting on this since I was 12.” Of course, we see clue after clue to who he is throughout the movie. This does kill the thrill a bit.
The movie’s ending leaves it wide open for a sequel, but do really need one? After nine movies maybe it’s time to let the franchise rest in peace.
While Spiral is a Saw movie, it tries hard to set itself apart, which I appreciate, it doesn’t have the same grit that the franchise is famous for but it does deliver on thrills, gore, and an interesting story. So, is it worth watching? Yes, absolutely. You can watch it now on Digital or get your copy on Blu-ray Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital), DVD, and On-Demand on July 20th from Lionsgate
Next week, Attachment, the feature debut from Denmark-based writer/director Gabriel Bier Gislason, a horror romance...