Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Starring: Chris Rock, Max Minghella, Samuel L Jackson and Marisol Nichols
Saw is a genuine modern horror classic, which has been tarnished by it’s sequels quick descent into little more than torture porn. The first film is scary, well thought out and tense. Its sequels never reach the same heights. Spiral is now the 9th film in the unending series, and this time we have Chris Rock and Samuel L Jackson brought in to try and bring some credibility to the franchise once more. For the most part it does.
Zeke is a detective, played by Rock, who is an outcast from his precinct after turning in a corrupt cop in the past. He doesn’t trust his colleagues and they don’t like him. Now there’s a Jigsaw copy-cat killer targeting corrupt cops on the force and Zeke is put in charge of the case to find this killer and bring him in.
This film is noticeably less gory than predecessors as the torture takes a backseat for the most part to a detective story, as Zeke and his rookie partner, played by Max Minghella investigate the case. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t gory moments for long-term fans of the series. The opening scene is one of the goriest, cringe inducing, skin-crawling scenes in the entire series. For those of the faint of heart, it doesn’t get any worse throughout, so if you make it through this one the rest of the film is easy watching.
The script has been ‘polished’ by Chris Rock, who’s humour is felt throughout some of the dialogue, it doesn’t always land, but there are some nice interactions that will bring a smile to your face. Samuel L Jackson pay’s Zeke’s father, the retired captain, and they play of each other well in the short time you see them together. It’s a shame there isn’t more of that. As the film progresses the humour does fall to the wayside as a more serious tone takes prevalence.
The Saw theme music is one of the best pieces of music in all of horror cinema, rivalling Halloween of The Exorcist for instantly recognisable and chilling. When the music kicks in at the final act of the film, with a nice call back to the first one it was exciting and re-energizing. It’s a sign to the audience that everything it about to click and come together with plenty of gore to be seen.
While everything does come together in the end, it isn’t a surprise. It’s predictable almost from the beginning. It doesn’t take much to unravel the plot and guess. The film doesn’t even do a good job of putting in a red herring. It feels lazy and predictable, but at 90ish minutes it’s fun and enjoyable to watch.
Chris Rock’s strong performance brings the whole film together, and while It doesn’t re-invent the franchise or do anything original, Spiral is fun to watch. It knows its audience and presents plenty of gory torture sequences to tag along with the detective story. It even sets up a sequel, which is currently being called Saw X, meaning that somehow they still have more ideas of crazy contraptions.