Remember the old times which were not so politically correct, where movies like Dance Flick, Superhero Movie, Meet the Spartans, etc., had average critics’ scores but tripled their budgets at the worldwide box office? Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021) seems to follow the same trend; it’s like a parody of the torture porn genre, with the main difference being, that the viewers themselves are the ones being tortured.
Surprisingly written by the same duo who penned Jigsaw, namely Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger, Spiral follows another set of copycat killings, but unlike the OG Jigsaw, this imitator’s targets are the cops.
Besides the first trap involving a tongue on the line, the rest of the traps fall super short of unpredictability. To further this statement, the plot itself is 99% foreseeable especially if you have seen majority of the previous entries in the Saw universe.
The funniest aspect of this movie involves the comic scenes involving lead star Chris Rock and surprise co-star Samuel L. Jackson feeling so scripted, while the serious sequences are laugh-out-loud hilarious.
I was of course not surprised by Chris Rock’s against-type casting (he was perfect in Fargo season 4; I did not realize he had such depth of acting prowess) but here his casting reminds me of when Nicolas Cage’s brother (Christopher Coppola) directed a film (1993’s Deadfall) and let Cage choose how to portray the character assigned to him (Eddie), with the primary distinction being that Cage’s performance became the centerpiece of the film, while I have no idea whether Rock acted like a comedian by nature or on purpose (as if he had a grudge against the director/writers).
Samuel L. Jackson didn’t seem out of place at all. Oftentimes, his performance is enough to save a film much in the vein of Nicolas Cage, and although Jackson plays his signature self to a tee, it is not enough to save this dumpster fire from burning your brains out.
I often like movies which are just about feature length (80 – 90 minutes) but here I was wishing they had found a way to have made this one even shorter. Spiral is a spiraling mess of a horror movie, and I’ll tell you what Jigsaw’s spiral symbol in this flick actually represents: It illustrates the brains of the creative team behind this disaster.
I’ll have to say, this movie would have worked better as a Scary Movie type parody, hell, I hope that Marlon Wayans gets inspired enough by Spiral that he makes a parody of it akin to the duology of A Haunted House.
I tend not to include spoilers in my reviews but there are just some parts in this flick that were too stupid to skip in my analysis. You can scroll down to the rating or read on further, live or die, it’s your choice.
- In all of the previous entries of the Saw franchise, we have so many suspects, but here we basically have two from the get-go: Samuel L. Jackson’s Marcus Banks and Max Minghella’s William Schenk.
- In most of the past parts, the traps are so ingenious that you wouldn’t be able to guess whether the trapped would survive, but here everything is set up to present a foreseeable conclusion.
- The afore-mentioned point robs the core purpose of Jigsaw. He legitimately offered second chances to his victims but here there is no way (in 90% of the traps) that the victim can escape.
- Samuel L. Jackson’s character Marcus Banks is a former chief of police who is also corrupt, but even he couldn’t decipher that he was being baited by a person pretending to be his son Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks (Chris Rock)
- The hands-down funniest moment was when the current captain of police, Angie Garza (Marisol Nichols), is tricked by “Jigsaw” and even appears right in front of her, and at this point she has her pistol pointed at him, but decides to run away instead to a door even a rookie detective could see being slammed shut on her.
If you have followed me till this point, the last two plot holes mentioned are definitely the most unforgivable of them all. Critics have stated that Spiral helped to change the original direction of the Saw franchise, but falls short of reinventing the universe. I’d say not only has it failed in reestablishing the world of Jigsaw, it is irredeemable as a Saw reboot, that too, from a filmmaker (Darren Lynn Bouseman) who has directed 3 previous entries in the Saw franchise namely Saw II, III, and IV.