Movie Review: Spiral: From The Book of Saw (2021)

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (returning from Saw II, III and IV) is the first spin-off of the Saw film series, Spiral: From the Book of Saw, released in 2021. Detective Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks (Chris Rock) is the only straight cop in a precinct of crooked officers, and finds himself involved in a wave of police killings seemingly modelled after the Jigsaw Killer. Under the command of police Captain Angie Garza (Marisol Nichols), Zeke must partner with rookie Detective William Schenk (Max Minghella) all the while dealing with his father, the former Chief of Police Marcus Banks (Samuel L Jackson).

+ I’m genuinely struggling to think of any positives to list here. The movie peaks in the opening scene, and if you stop watching as the film smash cuts to the title card you’ll be doing yourself a favour

– the plot is predictable garbage, to the point I sent a message to someone on what I thought would happen and I was (give or take some specifics) entirely correct. The first Saw movie, and indeed arguably, the Saw series in general, has been about subverting horror tropes and expectations, so this point was a real negative for me
– Chris Rock is not fit for serious, dramatic roles. I have read reviews that praise him in this film, but to me he was nothing more than a parody of a tough cop. His opening scene is an N-bomb dropping comedy rant that immediately sets a baseline of his character, and even though this does end up being an intentional swerve of sorts, it is just not possible to take him seriously afterwards. None of the secondary cast are anything memorable at all, including Sam Jackson in a disappointing and underutilised role
– the traps are all boring and uninspired. Unlike the traps from the early films that filled that ‘you need to want to survive’ deal, these are just extended torture devices that will invariably result in death. Maybe that’s part of the story here, maybe it’s not (spoiler: it is) but it just doesn’t fit in with the theme of the Saw series. I never agreed with the Saw series being ‘torture porn’ in the same way as The Human Centipede or Hostel trilogies, but this film was just that

> it’s hard to deny the real-world happenings that may tie in with a story of crooked police officers, especially when the main character (or characters, if you think Sam Jackson was the movie’s selling point, as he surely was) are black men. I won’t say it was a missed opportunity, as such, to delve deeper into some things, but I was surprised how non-real world it was

Should you see this film: No. This was not a good police movie, not a good horror movie, and not a good Saw movie. This was seemingly intended to be “a Saw movie for everyone”, and that just made it not worth seeing by anyone.

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