And now, after over a year, the cinemas about to open and we have the first film out of the post with Saw 9 or as its actually titled Spiral a reboot of the Saw franchise but here given the secondary heading ‘From the Book of Saw’. A self proclaimed uber fan of the franchise Chris Rock was the drive behind Spiral being put into production and he stars as Detective Zeke Banks son of Marcus (Samuel L Jackson and it must have been some sort of in-joke about his speech in ‘Pulp Fiction’ that he has called his screen son Ezekiel) – the former Captain of the police precinct. Zeke is the embodiment of of cop clichés – divorced, anger issues, maverick who works alone so when an unsanctioned drug bust he’s done comes to light he’s lumped with a rookie cop (another cop movie cliché) and the pair attend a brutal death of a man hit by an underground train. Except when they get there it seems that the notorious serial killer Jigsaw or at least another imitator has killed the man which is seen in the opening moments of the film.
It was a mark of the franchise that the inventively gruesome deaths where the victims had to make a choice between hideous self mutilation or die and Spiral continues that tradition with traps like some nightmarish Heath Robinson death dealing devices and fans of gore will only be disappointed that there may not be enough for them. So as Zeke and rookie partner Bill (Max Minghella) start investigating the bodies pile up. It’s not made any easier that Zeke, who heads up the investigation, has a team of cops that dislike him because he informed on a corrupt cop who served prison time. That his team seem so amoral about a fellow cops corruption makes it hard to sympathise with them as they end up as victims themselves
There’s missed opportunities here notably with its father – son dynamic between Jackson and Rock both with their own back stories but is skimmed over in favour of a police procedural where the procedure shown is lacking in credibility. Whereas at the core of the first Saw film was ironically about embracing life itself by facing death, Spiral addresses the rooting out of police corruption yet the shooting of a black male by US police in the film is timely reminder in a post George Floyd era (albeit that the film was made before that incident) about police relations with the black community.
Saw was at the forefront of the torture porn genre which ultimately faded away despite the 107 attempt to reboot it and Spiral has replaced the husky voiced ‘Max Wall in make-up’ puppet with a camp voiced dead eyed pig (another dig at police officers) and likely to next pop up on RuPaul’s Drag Race. With the killer sending film clips asking Zeke , ‘If he wants to play a game?’ it’s a wonder that the cop doesn’t suggest a game of scrabble as there’s far less bloodshed. When the killer is finally revealed explaining the Spiral moniker as a force for change, evolution and progress its probably more accurate to say that the killer is round the bend crazy but it’s unlikely that this latest reboot of Saw will relaunch the franchise.
Here’s the Spiral trailer…….