Spiral is a brand new beast with legs strong enough to stand on its own while still fitting nicely into the Saw family franchise and the lore that came before. It is at once fresh and faithful, reverent of its lineage but not so much of an homage that its afraid to spread its wings and become its own brand new entity. Thankfully, it was given the necessary space to cut loose and fly rather than prematurely clipping its wings. From The Book of Saw, a story is birthed and emerges, something akin to a proud parent sending a child out into the world with certain foundations in place coupled with complete freedom to grow and evolve.
To label it “another Saw movie” would be unfair to both the existing installments in the franchise which so intricately weaves story and timeline together and unfair to this original new entry. Director Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II, III, IV, Repo! The Genetic Opera) and writers Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger (Jigsaw, Piranha 3D) offer up an expansion to the universe in which Jigsaw exists. Chris Rock’s quippy levity is a nice balance to the guts and gore of the twisted games fans have come to love over the course of eight Saw films. Max Minghella is charming as the rookie cop assigned as reluctant Detective Zeke Banks’ (Chris Rock) eager new partner. Marisol Nichols is a take-no-shit badass as Captain of the precinct and of course, Samuel L. Jackson as Det. Banks’ father is likely exactly what you’d hope he’d be, motherfu**er!
You don’t need to watch all eight Saw films before diving into Spiral, but it certainly adds to the fun. This works as a standalone which is great for new or casual fans, but also is a fun nod to the series and the spirit of the franchise for existing fans. A real benefit of having a director and writers who have previously worked and created within the franchise is the way they were able to keep the spirit alive while deviating and breaking away in ways that strengthened this new story. Overall this new installment feels closer to a police procedural, where the majority of the existing movies take place largely from within Jigsaw’s traps, this one takes us on the outside following along with Detective Banks as the clock ticks against him and his colleagues. It feels accessible to new fans in a way that allows them to watch this as their introduction to the world and then dive into the rest of the series and essentially experience those as prequels. So don’t shy away from this if you’re not eight Saw films deep. This movie works well for both camps and I’m excited to see more of this universe it has blown wide open, ripe for the storytelling.
After the delay from its original May 2020 release date, Spiral heralds a collective triumphant return to movie theaters. It’s popcorn season and we are just getting started! See you at the theater.
Spiral spins into theaters this Friday, May 14th.
Check out the opening scene from the movie (warning, it’s brutal!)