CULTURE TRUMPET – REVIEW – Spiral: From The Book Of Saw

Hello readers, I want to play a game…

Well, I want you to read this review of Spiral actually. Let’s dive into this Chris Rock produced horror reboot.

Spoilers lie ahead, you have been warned!

First off, the full title of this film is Spiral: From the Book of Saw and one can only assume this is to make a strong connection to the other 8 films that preceded this redux. It sets the scene that this film will contain horrendous tortue, blood, guts and John Kramer. Well, most of that is true. This instalment of the never ending Saw franchise opens with a nice gory trap in which an unsuspecting police officer finds himself up a ladder with his tongue wedged between a vice type creation. The task, simply fall off the ladder and tear your tongue out to prevent him from lying ever again before the train does it for you and ends it all. As with most Saw films, the victim rarely makes it out alive. Spiral is no exception, this opening segment sets the tone for the next 90 minutes, there is blood and body parts galore.

Like most Saw films, there is a storyline shoehorned within the mindless violence and Spiral is no different. Det. Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks (Rock) has been shunned by his colleagues for turning over a dirty cop and therefore made enemies amongst the force. This 2021 Jigsaw imitator is targeting these dirty cops to clean up the Metro Police Force. Marcus Banks (Samuel L. Jackson), Zeke’s father is the ex Chief of Metro Police and like any good serial killer movie the protagonist’s family is brought into the mix as a bargaining chip, more on that later.

Over the course of the movie these dirty cops are subjected to some truly awful ways to die. One officer needs to rip his fingers off or face electrocution. Another cop meets their maker by drowning in hot wax. All they had to do was sever their spinal cord on the conveinealty placed blade under their neck. Most traps are filled with the gore that we expect from these films but you can’t help but think back to the older films and the full on splatterfest that they were. Spiral misses the mark here in terms of full on torture porn as the impact of the traps don’t linger on screen too much. It’s easy to see why hardcore fans both loved and loathed this installment.

Towards the end of the movie it’s revealed that Zeke’s father was ultimately to blame for the influx of dirty cops for giving them too much power during his time as Chief. Flip to William Schenk/Emerson (Max Minghella) as he’s revealed as the true mastermind behind the whole shebang. Cue flashback to all the clues that we missed that points at him being the killer. Finally, Zeke is given one final test: get the killer or save his father. In the end he misses out on both. A SWAT team arrives at the final test and triggers a tripwire, causing Marcus’s restraints to raise him into the air, like the new pig puppet symbol seen throughout the whole film. That’s right, Billy isn’t even in this one! A gun is revealed to be affixed to his arm as restraints as it pulls upwards it results in the SWAT team killing him. Banks screams in anguish as Emerson escapes, setting up an inevitable sequel. It feels that the undertone of the story is a comment on the most horrific events of the last year. Police officers abusing their power and facing little to no consequences.

So, how does it stack up against other films in the Saw franchise in terms of on screen body count?

Saw (2004) – 6

Saw II (2005) – 8

Saw III (2006) – 9

Saw IV (2007) – 11

Saw V (2008) – 5

Saw VI (2009) – 12

Saw VII 3D: The Final Chapter (2010) – 21

Jigsaw (2017) – 10

Spiral (2021) – 7

So Spiral only just beats the body count of the first film. Which did not rely on the body torture that the latter films did in order to make up for the lack of story. Sadly, Spiral didn’t have much in either story or gore factor.

Spiral tried to reboot a franchise (for the second time, remember Jigsaw (2017)?) and if the title was simply Spiral, you would be forgiven for not knowing that this was in fact a Saw movie. It’s links to the franchise are tenuous at best and if you missed the mentions of Jigsaw or John Kramer during the film you’d never know it was attached to the same universe. Sadly, Spiral missed the mark.

Movie: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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