Helmed by Chris Rock Spiral: From The Book Of Saw is the ninth iteration in the Saw film series and looks to act as a soft reboot/offshoot of the franchise.
At the core of the film’s story is Detective Ezekiel ‘Zeke’ Banks (Chris Rock) as he tracks, and attempts to apprehend, a Jigsaw copycat murderer targeting fellow detectives. Banks appears to be the only riotous police officer on the force in Spiral as we come to learn that the Jigsaw copycat is targeting corrupt police officers in a veiled attempt at reforming the system.
It is here that the film attempts to insert a socially minded slant to the story by tapping into themes inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality. Obviously the producers hoped this would place Spiral into the same conversations as the fantastic Get Out. Unfortunately though these elements are handled rather clumsily and thus don’t hit nearly as strongly as Get Out did.
Spiral also attempts to move away from the traditional Saw film structure, which would typically have one major game at its core. In comparison Spiral looks instead to become a detective style film as Banks moves from crime scene to crime scene. Choosing to move in this direction allows the film to have a less oppressive colour palette, we regularly get bright pos of course ranging from blue to purple and yellow, however it removes the sense of impending dread.
In regards to the traps/games employed in Spiral these are much more akin to the original films than we have seen in some of the more recent reboots. Rather than huge over complicated traps these are smaller and more simplistic. The opening trap for example simply requires its victim to bit off their own tongue in order to escape. Each of the traps employed in Spiral appear survivable, but some with very dire consequences for doing so. We even get one moment which is a clear homage to the original Saw film.
Lastly, the keys element of any great Saw film has forever been the shock twist. Sadly Spiral fails on this front, despite dropping many a red herring in order to throw the viewer off the scent.
For the general publicity you go into this with low expectations you will enjoy the ride for what it is. Fans of the Saw series though will enjoy this film simply for the gore elements, many of which certainly had me squirming in my seat.
Ultimately the story is thin and the social commentary is clumsy but it hits many of the elements you want in a Saw film.