Spiral (2021)

Last year, I watched every Saw film in a day or two and it’s not an experience that I would wish on anyone. Well, seeing as how this had the lofty title of Spiral: From the Book of Saw and was directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, who also was behind Saw II, Saw III and Saw IV,  I was for sure that I was going to hate every single moment of this.

Guess what? I didn’t!

I mean, it’s the best Saw movie I’ve seen and I still didn’t love it, but it didn’t make me continually look at how much time is left in the movie, which is a major improvement on past episodes in the franchise.

Honestly, this movie could have been its own film and had nothing to do with Jigsaw or any of the past films and it would have been just fine on its own.

This film got its start when Chris Rock met Lionsgate vice chairman Michael Burns at a wedding and decided that doing a horror film would be a new direction for him. He’s right, but it’s kind of like the entire film is Rock testing out his “I’m divorced now” material on the audience, which isn’t all that bad, because I laughed at a lot of it, but I’m also not certain that the film should have been about Rock’s “big divorce energy.*”

Rock plays Det. Marv Bozwick, a man whose father — Samuel Jackson! — was a cop and when he finally became a cop himself, it turns out that everyone was dirty. Well, just from the opening, it seems like maybe Marv is on his way. Or maybe he’s having too much fun playing a criminal. And hey, that scene is never brought back or discussed again.

The idea that a copycat killer is cleaning up the police department is a good one, yet we’re forced to feel sympathy for the kind of cops that have given the justice system the bad name that it currently lives under. There are about five minutes of actually trying to turn this into something interesting before people start getting hung up by their tongues, which is pretty much what this franchise is all about.

The end of this was one of the weirdest edited mishmashes I’ve seen, more given to scattered imagery and flashes than showing what was really happening. It was like they realized they only had a few more feet of film — it’s digital, guys — and just went with what they had. Or maybe this was shot during quarantine and they did the best they could.

That said — the buddy cop aspects of this and where they go were interesting. And I’d much rather see where the Spiral and Mr. Snuggles the cop puppet turn up next than go back to the same story that the other films have mined more times than I thought was even necessary.

Spiral is available in so many formats for your viewing pleasure: a 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (plus Blu-ray and Digital), a blu-ray Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital), DVD and Digital On Demand. You can get any of them wherever you choose to buy movies from Lionsgate. The physical media sets also include two commentary tracks: one with director Darren Lynn Bousman, co-screenwriter Josh Stolberg and composer Charlie Clouser and another with producers Oren Koules and Mark Burg.

*© G.G. Graham for that line.

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