HOLLYWOOD—I had seriously high hopes for this latest entry in the “Saw” franchise titled “Spiral.” It is the latest entry in the horror catalogue that if you count this flick, is the ninth entry, only it does not have “Saw” as a moniker. However, if you think this horror fest is about to deliver something fresh, new and exciting, I have bad news: it does not. “Saw” when it arrived in 2004 was something inventive, thrilling and exciting. Its sequel, “Saw II” was almost a perfect sequel compared to the countless junk in horror nowadays.
Each subsequent sequel after that just got gorier, subpar and just repeated the same ole concept. “Spiral” follows that troupe, which finds Chris Rock, yes comedian Chris Rock, as Detective Zeke Banks, who is hunting a killer who seems inspired by the crimes of Jigsaw and his wicked games. The unique concept the flick takes is the killer is targeting cops, dirty cops to be specific. So that is intriguing; it does grab the audience’s attention, but that spark soon fizzles as the movie turns into your typical horror flick.
People die left and right, and we ultimately learn who the antagonist is before you get a cliffhanger or not so thrilling solution. Rock portrays his character the best of his ability, but I can’t help, but get those subtle hints of the comic who cracks a few jokes, and I immediately said, “That is the Chris Rock” that I know people. Samuel L. Jackson does what he does best in a pretty iconic scene in the flick as Marcus Banks, Zeke’s father. Jackson yells, screams and delivers an iconic line that I must admit I found hilarious. His character’s presence is NOT as potent as I had expected, and the script should have fleshed out the story of Zeke and Marcus a bit more. We know they have some fractures because we learn they live in the same apartment complex and barely spoke to each other in over a year people. That is a plot-point only ADDS to the narrative and could explain a backstory that the writer’s apparently ignored.
“Spiral” falls into the trap that its predecessors did: overdoing the gore thinking that by implementing creative deaths it would satisfy the viewer. Here’s the problem, more gore does not always mean great storytelling. To be honest, I have never been a fan of the torture porn element which “Saw” introduced to audiences in the early 2000s. It soon got to a point where you are turning away from the scream because the blood and the deaths are so gruesome, it makes your skin crawl and you are just rattled to the core people.
Watching someone lose their tongue, a person skinned to death, those are just some of the vicious deaths our dirty cops encounter in “Spiral” and trust me this is not for the squeamish people. I will admit the one strong aspect of the flick is that twist near the big climax that I truly did not see coming that I should have spotted if I was fully paying attention to the movie, but that’s the problem I got bored with “Spiral.” There are moments where it just feels like the time is just passing by as the movie fails to grab and maintain your attention from start to finish.
It is indeed a bummer at the same time, because there are sparks of genius in “Spiral,” but not fully pieced together to deliver the viewer a satisfying conclusion. Nice try, but not enough to reinvent the “Saw” franchise for a new audience.