A Jigsaw Killer copycat is targeting corrupt cops for a
new sickening game with personal ties to a covered-up sin.
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Written by Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger
Starring Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, Max Minghella,
Marisol Nichols, Richard Zeppieri, Patrick McManus
Sequel to 2017's Jigsaw
I don’t think anyone genuinely thought a little film known as Saw would become horror’s biggest franchise. Yet, as fate would have it, the film became a monster box office success which would release a new film yearly until the seventh installment. Since then, there would be one attempt at revitalizing the franchise in 2017 with the release of Jigsaw. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, and the series would go dormant again. Then, it was announced Chris Rock had pitched an idea for a Saw sequel. Yes, the comedian. Who is also a big fan of the series, apparently. The next big announcement to follow was the return of director Darren Lynn Bousman. And it was with that that my excitement immediately rose up immensely. Let the games begin.
I want to start with reminding people this installment is not meant to be exactly what we’ve been given before. Instead, it was decided to change the tone and style of the series while still maintaining the continuity of prior installments. This, I believe, ended up being an incredibly smart move. While Jigsaw and his puppet are no longer involved in this game, his legacy is still there. And the story is able to free itself a bit because of it. Don’t get too worried, though, as there is still some of that classic style intact. The (in)famous fast cutting and iconic score do come back for this installment. The biggest surprise is Chris Rock being the lead. Simply put, he’s great. He actually gives a solid dramatic performance while still keeping some of his more comedic stylings for certain moments. Now for my minor negative with this film, Samuel L. Jackson. Performance wise, he’s great. But, the film severely underutilizes him and never develops the father-son dynamic between him and Rock all that much.
For me, this was the exact type of freshness this series needed. Bousman makes his glorious return in the director’s chair. Rock surprises with his performance and clear love for this series. The traps are some of the best I’ve seen in any of the installments. And I couldn’t be more intrigued by this potential route the series has taken. Let the games begin.
Saw is one of the most enduring and profitable franchises in horror history. Despite constant terrible reviews and an ongoing convoluted story, the franchise remains a fan-favorite. After the decision not to continue the story threads established by 2017's Jigsaw, fans had been anxiously awaiting some sort of news about the franchise. The last thing we expected was a savior in the form of Chris Rock, who brought his own idea to Lionsgate, which evolved into Spiral. This was a film with a lot to live up to. It had to respect the franchise's legacy, while at the same time bringing something new to fans and being decent enough to warrant continuation. I think it accomplished all of this.
Chris Rock plays Det. Zeke Banks, a good cop who is spit on by his fellow cops for turning in a corrupt cop. When one of his cop friends is brutally murdered in a twisted game similar to the legendary Jigsaw Killer's M.O., things get real serious real fast. I won't spoil the big reveal, but it's a good one that makes sense and doesn't screw with the franchise's legacy. The performances are pretty good, and the traps are a good start to a return to form. Plus, it was so satisfying to hear Charlie Clouser's iconic music once again.
Spiral will satisfy the curiosity of newcomers and also does right by the legions of Saw fans that have kept this franchise alive since 2004. It was a smart move to bring franchise vet Darren Lynn Bousman back to the director's chair, as I'd argue that few directors know how to build a Saw film like he does. The franchise is back, and while it does need a few more pushes to get back to full steam, this is a really good start.