Spiral' Movie Review: A Rapid Fire of Sadistic Deaths

Spiral movie review 

Chris Rock got the ball rolling on adding another entry to the SAW franchise with him starring in SPIRAL: FROM THE BOOK OF SAW. While SPIRAL does forge a new path in this latest chapter, the gimmicks are the same with a rapid line of deaths that will have squeamish viewers look away for the majority of the film.

Rock plays Detective Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks who along with rookie partner (Max Minghella) investigate the grisly murders by a Jigsaw copy cat. As executive producer, Rock recruited another big name with Samuel L. Jackson playing his father, and former police chief.

At a run time of 133 minutes, the action and deaths are relentless and gruesome. Right out of the gate, a sadistic killing kicks off the endless deaths with no time to recover in between.

The torture game is pretty much the same except the victims don't have long to ponder their sins or make a moral choice like in past SAW movies. SPIRAL can best be described as "torture porn" because of the sadistic violence. Certain scenes may trigger your gag reflex so it's not for the faint of heart. This viewer spent most of the time avoiding the screen.

The first SAW relied heavily on the moral dilemma between Jigsaw's victims. Director James Wan and writer/star Leigh Whannell (THE INVISIBLE WOMAN, UPGRADE) brought a refreshing take on the horror genre with a new kind of killer. However, the SAW movies became increasingly more violent with each sequel and less substantive. At least in SPIRAL, the plot is compelling as is Rock and Minghella's characters, but you don't feel much compassion for the victims because of their crimes.

The violence in SPIRAL is relentless. There's perhaps two scenes were there is some levity between characters, but every other scene is a murder. For all the sick puppies of the world, this may sound like a dream come true.

Spiral movie Chris Rock Max Minghella

The ordering of scenes seemed out of sequence. You'd have a character going to a location for no apparent reason, and then they'd disappear for a chunk of the movie. Other times flashbacks are utilized to revisit the victim's past actions that got them trapped in the game, but you're watching it from Zeke's perspective who wasn't there as he stands over the person's mutilated body.

The abrupt ending felt unsatisfying because of the lack of closure for the sake of continuing the story. 

Chris Rock is obviously making an effort to expand his acting chops with more dramatic roles as evidenced with this role and as a mob boss in the last season of Fargo. While he plays an interesting character, Rock screams his dialogue so often, it feels like we're watching a comedy sketch and a punch line is coming.

While it felt like a SAW movie, SPIRAL is more of a revenge thriller with a story that resonates around a hot topic that has divided this country - police reform.

SPIRAL is now showing in movie theaters.

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