I have been waiting far too long for Spiral: From The Book of Saw. Or just Spiral, let’s just call it Spiral.
It doesn’t help that I follow movie news and announcements, but knowing that Sprial, like nearly every other film in the franchise, was shot in Toronto, my anticipation was high. And then the film was delayed, and delayed. Between a gorgeous poster and a great trailer that grabbed many fans’ attention, we started questioning how will this film live up to the rest of the franchise? The answer is now clear, it exceeds expectations and gives us one of the franchise’s best films.
Spiral takes place a few years after Jigsaw, which itself was about ten years after Saw 3D. Returning from Jigsaw are both Peter Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg, as well as Darren Lynn Bousman who expanded from James Wan and Leigh Whannell’s original foundation and gave us some of the best installments in the series.
Chris Rock is a Detective Ezekiel Banks, often referred to as Zeke leads the film. Alongside him is Max Minghella as Detective William Schenk, a rookie cop that is partnered with Zeke who has been working alone for a long time. This is partially due to the rest of his precinct don’t trust him or have his back due to him turning in his partner who was a dirty cop. When Zeke and his new partner William get called to the aftermath of a pretty brutal trap in the subway, the two are stuck trying to solve this new Jigsaw copycat.
Most people who have seen the trailer made the comparison to Fincher’s Seven, and with good reason. Between the warm yellow that hangs over every frame, Spiral is another film where we find a veteran detective train a rookie (the difference being that Zeke isn’t about to retire) while tackling a case about a serial killer, one more vicious than anything they’ve seen before. But with their case, they’re familiar with the city’s history with the Jigsaw killer.
Speaking of vicious, let’s talk about the reason why most people watch the franchise, the traps. In a lot of ways, the film feels like a return to the basics. There aren’t enough traps in the Spiral — I say this as a massive fan of the series — but you feel the weight of each one. The first trap (which you can watch on YouTube if you want) is one of the few traps in the series that has made me look away from the screen.
Even though Spiral marks Bousman’s return to the franchise, I adore the fact that the film never looks like a prior instalment. While some of the trap scenes include the now-iconic quick-cut, spinning camera, it doesn’t last nearly a minute as it might have before. This was clear within the first five minutes of the film, which told me nearly everything I needed to know. Even with the screenwriters of Jigsaw returning (which is a GREAT entry) and Bousman returning to the franchise he helped cement its legacy, we are in entirely new territory.
Spiral has some of the best acting in the series with Chris Rock stealing every scene from his partners. This includes Max Minghella who while great, is often set to the sidelines while Rock balances comedy and drama incredibly well.
The film did an excellent job in trying to both make the film a worthy continuation but also, stand on its own in order to pave a new path to hopefully, a new set of films. While the previous films tackled grief and famously insurance companies, this film touches on police brutality and the corrupt nature of the force. I’m sure I’m not the first, but I won’t be the last to state that I’m hoping we continue this story and see what else Bousman, Stolberg, and Goldfinger have up their bloody sleeves.