Chris Rock steps out of his comfort zone in Spiral: From The Book of Saw (Picture: Lionsgate)
If you’re of the belief that the Saw franchise was well past its sell-by date, then Spiral: From The Book of Saw will probably do little to convince you that there’s still steam in this train.
This latest reboot helmed by comedian Chris Rock, with support from Samuel L Jackson, is absolutely flawed but it’s not a complete write-off.
Spiral puts an end to Jigsaw’s sick games with Tobin Bell’s iconic serial killer getting, well, killed off several Saws ago. However, there’s a new copycat in town with Spiral picking up the baton to inflict pain and torture on another unfortunate group.
This group happens to be a set of police officers at the precinct where Rock’s Detective Zeke Banks is both head honcho and villain. Zeke is, ironically, already a tortured soul with a history of exposing corrupt police officers, which surprisingly doesn’t make him popular in a station full of corrupt police officers.
With this, it immediately feels like there’s a chunk of story to sink our teeth into compared to past Saw installments where the back story has pretty much extended no further than guessing how the people caught in the traps are connected.
Spiral spends a lot of time warming us up to Zeke and fleshing him out and, while initially this seems great, it gradually begins to feel like we’re watching an episode of NCIS with the occasional moment of horror thrown in.
In past movies, the action has mostly centered around Jigsaw’s game and the traps, with the police arc coming secondary or, at least woven into the story a little better than Spiral manages. Unfortunately, this slows down the pace and the gaps between traps are too drawn out.
In fact, can we talk about the tests? Kudos to the writers for thinking of even more creative ways to lock Spiral’s subjects into the game – the Reverse Bear Trap and Needle Pit are hard to live up to. However, they could have been perfected and it’s just a shame that, aside from the first and penultimate tests, the traps generally were over before they began.
The sense of burning urgency and race against the clock that we felt in past Saw movies isn’t present in Spiral.
Therefore we rely on Rock, the man of the show who is almost guaranteed to put on a charismatic performance whenever he graces the screen. He truly stepped out of his comfort zone taking on a horror – and a legendary series at that. Rock without a doubt carries the film and puts on a worthy performance of a haunted Zeke, desperately trying to do what’s right professionally while tussling with his personal strained relationship with his dad (Jackson).
Spiral is up to Jigsaw’s old tricks and traps (Picture: Lionsgate)
At times, it does feel as though Rock struggles to quite nail the more serious tone of his character, full of too much adrenaline in some scenes when it needs a more nuanced approach.
If you’ve seen even one Saw film, you’ll know how important the end game is. However, if we’re comparing Spiral to the first ever Saw – given this reboot launches a potential new chapter – the pay off is nowhere near as glorious as the original.
The twist in Saw 1 with Cary Elwes’ protagonist seemingly condemned to a grim fate in an equally grim bathroom remains legendary. The twist in Spiral can easily be predicted in the first 20 minutes and the ending isn’t a patch on Jigsaw’s grand finale.
That being said, a reboot of any popular franchise is always going to get a hard wrap and Spiral is no different. Weighed up against some of the questionable Saw sequels we have over the years, Spiral certainly isn’t the worst of them.
It’s just… different. If you’re open to a different approach to the Saw games, Spiral might just be enough to turn your gears.
Spiral: From The Book of Saw is out in UK cinemas now.
Credit: Original article published here.