Spiral (original title Spiral: The Book of Saw) is a part of the Saw franchise that has become somewhat predictable. The director is Darren Lynn Bousman who also directed Saw II (2005), Saw III (2006), and Saw IV (2007). I enjoyed those Saw films despite their redundancy. I feel the same way about Spiral because of the cleverness of the murder trail and the way the clock ticks until someone’s fate of survival is tested. This film has grade A actors ranging from Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson to Max Minghella. I found the humor displayed by Rock’s character to be where Spiral provides entertaining shock value, even though the film has a repetitive structure like other Saw films made since 2004.
Chris Rock is Det. Zeke Banks who is working after his father, Marcus (Samuel L. Jackson), a police veteran is off the force. Banks is a detective with his own set of personal problems in his life and in his career. His career becomes more haunting as he is partnered with another detective, William Schenk, to unfold a murder that happens in a subway system. What starts to happen is the same symbol from a previous crime scene keeps showing up for Banks and Schenk. Then more people who fall into the hands of this grisly murderer start to die one by one. The victims have a chance to survive, but their fate is tested, and so is the faith of detective Banks as the murderous trail starts to link back to him and his family. The question of the murderer is if it’s someone that Banks already knows or someone outside his world who only goes after those who have sinned.
As the film progressed, it still felt repetitive given the approach is the same as how other Saw movie begin. The sequence begins with a murder or a death, and then a deadly trail of puzzles and questions with little to no time to save the victims. These dark elements were entertaining due to Rock, Jackson, and Minghella. While we have seen these famous actors for years in all kinds of movies, the only one who has done dark films on this level is Jackson. For Rock and Minghella, they take their performances to a different level than what their fans are used to.
I give Spiral’s directorcredit for keeping its shock and scare momentum, but I still feel it is too much like the previous Saw films. There is a plus side to the torture and twist elements, and that is the messages they leave for the fans. Specifically, the message is that the trail is not over yet. Therefore, the fans can expect more mystery and suspense in the future. Of course, many Saw fans are just anxiously awaiting more torture scenes.
Overall, I experienced some fun moments with Spiral. I was disappointed that I was not taken by surprise as much as I has anticipated. While enjoyable, it is not a film I would watch many times. I hope if there are more Saw films down the line, that the puzzles have me think more. Two and a half stars.