Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021) – Movie Review
13th May 2021 Written by Peter Walkden
Following on from the previous Saw films, Spiral: From the Book of Saw introduces a new lead character named Detective Zeke Banks (Chris Rock). After finishing his most recent undercover case, which did not end well, Zeke is forced to take on a new rookie partner named William (Max Minghella). Zeke has many issues when it comes to his current Police Department. Since he testified against an officer, his follow officers call him a snitch and dislike him. He is constantly checking his back as cops consistently give him flak and play pranks on him. It does not help that Zeke is also battling with the respectful image of his father, who was once an officer of the law but has since retired.
Zeke and his new partner get a call out to a gruesome murder and crime scene where the victim was the close friend of Zeke and someone who also wore the badge. Soon, a series of chaos, games, and murders occur across the city as a Jigsaw copycat emerges, and Zeke is right in the centre of the game.
I’ve always been a fan of the Saw franchise but not necessarily for all the gore and violent traps; I have always been fascinated by the thriller aspect. I’ve always enjoyed a big reveal at the end of each film, hoping to be shocked and surprised. For those who are not aware, the director of this film is none other than Darren Lynn Bousman, who previously directed Saw movies 2,3 & 4, which are undoubtedly among the better releases out of the series (just my opinion). But Spiral is quite different to any Saw film I have ever seen. Firstly, the lead played by Chris Rock was an unexpected casting choice, but to the actor’s credit, I thought, for the most part, he did an incredible job with only a couple of moments that felt weak or did not quite deliver.
I was also surprised to see the lead be witty and funny, which was also a new additional ingredient to the horror series. The same could be said about actor Samuel L. Jackson. The character relationship between the two was fun and highly believable. As a plot, I loved the film’s setup and the general mysteries that are introduced. The thriller aspect is more present here, something that has been lacking in some of the previous films.
Zeke is always on the run and always finding out something new in both the present and his past. While I enjoyed the film’s plot and the introduction of a Jigsaw copycat on the loose, I was disappointed to find the “big reveal” very predictable, but everything else, including victims and traps, most certainly delivered surprises. Having seen the film, I afterwards found myself questioning many aspects which do not add up or make sense, and certain scenes were not needed. But this is a Saw film, and I accept it is not supposed to require deep thinking, so this issue shall vary among its audiences.
For those who are curious, the traps do not seem to have the same style of creativity and a high level of gore. However, I still found all the traps to deliver plenty of moments that made me tense up in my cinema seat, and I admired the film’s attempt to do a few things differently, which kept me engaged. The visuals were great, and I enjoyed the filming style, which felt fresh and somewhat familiar. The jump scares certainly feel repetitive and always loud, which worked well early in the film, but because the same tactic was repeated, it quickly loses its finesse.
Overall, I am thankful we have another sequel in the universe of Saw that feels fresh and attempts to be different from the rest. It was great to see actor Chris Rock venture into something new, and for the most part, I thought he did a solid job as the lead. The film also focuses on delivering more of a thriller instead of being just another gorefest. While the thrills here were welcomed, the big reveal for me was far too predictable, and the film has highly questionable plot points. Nevertheless, I still had a great time with this film, and it certainly builds on the Saw universe. Spiral is undoubtedly a film I suggest you see if you love the previous titles or are seeking new thrills and uncomfortable violence. Play the game if you dare.
Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021) is Now Available in Australian Cinemas!