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Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021)

Zeke Banks (Chris Rock) is still dealing with the effects of ratting out a dirty cop, years later. Now he’s been hurled into a bloody mess in which the crimes look far too similar to that of the infamous John Kramer (Tobin Bell). Spiral: From the Book of Saw follows a new killer, one that is looking to employ his or her own form of justice on a police force that has long been corrupt.

I honestly believe that the Saw franchise is one of the best constructed horror series of all time. Sure, there are plot holes, and like any other entity, it’s not perfect–but the franchise has a lot going for it. It manages to find some really talented actors, the storylines are often entertaining and well-developed, and the psychological aspect of the films really lend themselves to success. Spiral: From the Book of Saw is no exception to this, as the Chris Rock-led ninth installment is just as bloody and psychologically thrilling as the previous eight films. Regardless of how similar the film is to the others, however, Spiral: From the Book of Saw is different in multiple ways (some good and some bad).

I’ve always liked that the Saw films look and feel gritty. They have always given viewers a sense of rawness, of a feeling that made it possible for viewers to better enjoy and appreciate the films. This is one of the negative changes made in regard to Spiral: From the Book of Saw. This installment is maybe a bit too modern looking. What that does is create something of a disconnect between the film itself and its content–as the film seems hyperreal at times as a result. This piece of Spiral: From the Book of Saw makes moments in the film challenging, as I, too, felt a disconnect.

The most impressive aspect of the franchise as a whole may just be the editing. The editing makes it impossible for viewers to anticipate the jump scares or any of what is coming next. Spiral: From the Book of Saw takes this to a new level, one that helped the film to make me jump on several occasions. For those of you who don’t know me–that’s a big deal. Again and again, Editor Dev Singh pieced together scenes that had me on edge, fully aware that something was coming, but being completely incapable of properly preparing. Spiral: From the Book of Saw is intense from beginning to end, and the expertise of Singh allows characters to transcend time and space in a very unique, but believable and effective way.

I was unsure how I felt about the addition of Rock and Samuel L. Jackson (Marcus Banks) to the Saw franchise, how exactly these mainstream actors would fit into the grand scheme of it all. However, they work out brilliantly–particularly Rock. He has moments when you can hear the stand-up comedian coming out, but the majority of the film sees him perform brilliantly, bringing to life a character that I hope has a place in the franchise going forward. He reminded me a lot of Donnie Wahlberg’s Eric Matthews from Saw II, where he was able to develop a great balance of comedy and drama that exists throughout the film that helps to propel it forward. With that, however, Rock creates his own character, one that most definitely exists separate from the other characters in the franchise–making Spiral: From the Book of Saw one of a kind.

Spiral: From the Book of Saw seems to be the film that hoped to reinvigorate the franchise, to make it fresh and new once again. While it pulls so many aspects from the previous films, it does manage to separate itself from those films that came before. Spiral: From the Book of Saw isn’t a perfect film, but it keeps up a tradition of solid filmmaking and effective horror. I’m most impressed by Singh and what he does to help this film flourish, but the film as a whole was an enjoyable ride.

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman.

Written by Josh Stolberg & Pete Goldfinger.

Starring Chris Rock, Max Minghella, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisol Nichols, Dan Petronijevic, Richard Zeppieri, etc.




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