I never bring myself to watch all of the franchise but let’s admit it, the Saw franchise is quite dead even since the first sequel. There’s an effort to bring the theme deeper but it’s just a waste of potential while they keep neglecting most filmmaking aspects. Then the ninth installment, ‘Spiral: From The Book of Saw’ (2021) dropped and it could be the ‘messiah’ of the franchise with a more atmospheric approach. Sadly, they’re still stuck in the same game.
‘Spiral’ looks very promising with David Fincher’s ‘Zodiac’ (2007) look and Chris Rock’s stepping out of his comfort zone that it’s not bizarre to have high expectations. But it isn’t surprising either that the expectations fall high and break into pieces of disappointment glass. I know this is ‘Saw’ we’re talking about but I still can’t believe they still stick with the cheap fast-forward editing and worst, random hip-hop songs that mismatch the tone. Come on, it’s quite a fundamental aspect in filmmaking and why did they keep sticking with the rotten identity instead of improving it?
Yet the thing that completely took me out (in a good way) is the storytelling. Sure, flaws are everywhere with its rushed pace, exposition and predictability. Anyway, the franchise selling point is in its torture porn (will talk about this later) so what’s the point on making a good story? But ‘Spiral’ is a straightforward cop films where the main character Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks (Chris Rock) investigate a grizzly murder of his detective friend and promise to threaten more of the officers through his game. Focusing only to the main character, the stress toll that Chris Rock performs strikes a sympathy towards audience mentally and that’s what make ‘Spiral’ stand out from the others in the franchise (aside from the first installment)
I really could see how ‘Spiral’ has a potential of being higher than the average crime-thriller film. But yes, it’s sadly attached with the name of ‘Saw’ for a cash grabber (Yet I might not watch the film without the name though). However, it certainly has its moment and I believe fans of Saw will rejoice of how great the torture setting is. It’s full of thrills and squirms with no moments for you to laugh in its ridiculousness, and that’s what made ‘Spiral’ seem more horrifying than its predecessor.
Let’s make it short. All I could say that I was disappointed with the result, but I can’t deny I had fun in the theaters. But that’s it. The moment you step out you’ll just forgot everything else, even the most horrible parts of it. Not for the fans, however. I believe this installment will stick with you for at least a couple of days.