Live Or Die, Make Your Choice: Spiral - From The Book of Saw (2021) - Reviewed

images courtesy Lionsgate
Has the Jigsaw killer (John Kramer) returned from the afterlife for another series of murders? Or has a new menace decided to take up the routine of capturing people and torturing them in bizarre and distinct ways?  Heading back to an earlier time when torture porn became a mainstay in lower budget indie horror, Spiral: From The Book of Saw attempts to revitalize a long dying brand with a feature that was developed by an idea from Chris Rock, who also serves as executive producer. 

After a four year silence, the Saw franchise returns for a new entry in the saga that continues its flesh shredding legacy while having no direct connection to the original continuity. Considering Spiral's top billed stars are Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson and Max Minghella, fans of the series expected to be blown away by this latest chapter after the coronavirus delayed the movie's release for nearly a year. Their assumption was incorrect. 

Opening in theaters this Thursday night, the history of Saw takes a distinct turn down another snooze inducing dark corridor that leads directly to a deeply flawed, if not totally terrible ninety minutes of pure unadulterated disappointment that's topped off by just another in a long line of silly police narratives that have become the core mistake and misled ideal behind this entire franchise. This is fully unadulterated Saw repetition topped off by a disingenuous script that's riddled with plot holes and acting straight out of an amateur drama class. 

Attempting a semi-relaunch with a narrative and style that seems to pay some amount of love to David Fincher's Se7en, the talents of all involved are wasted on a silly ninety minutes of cheap gore and violence that never lives up to the past. The traps are still grotesque but they miss the creativity that made the first couple Saw movies something mildly genuine. Unfortunately, there is not enough material here to help establish a new mythology or new primary antagonist. The movie is too short, has none of the character or dynamic that infused the 2004 original, and takes itself way too seriously for a ninety minute flick about folks being sliced and diced to fleshy little bits. 

Spiral brings back horror director Darren Lynn Bousman, who also helmed parts II, III and IV. As it seems he attempted to do his best with the provided script, this sub-genre just doesn't seem to hold up as well as it once did. Modern horror has moved beyond these tropes and for good reason. Falling back or relying on his own previous works really is a testament to how poorly made this thing is. The stylistic markers of his other Saw entries are fully missing as the audience is expected to forget that this is supposed to be a horror movie and are instead given a standard police procedural mystery that would better suit a cheap Law & Order knock off. 

After seventeen years, it's high time to put this one to bed. Saw is dead. There is literally nothing new or original to say. But as we all know by now, all franchises will be milked for all they're worth until audiences stop paying to see them. As people begin to head back to theaters, this is not a good way to celebrate but is a disappointing and depressing reminder that cheap thrills still fill seats. This is lowest denominator genre trash that didn't need to be made. Chris Rock and all those involved should be embarrassed of this abomination. This is coming from a die hard horror fan.