Review: Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021)

5 Star.png
5 Star.png

#Cinema, #Film, #movie review

David North-Martino

Oct 14, 2021

Review: Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021)

Spiral is a horror film directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw), written by Josh Stolberg (Jigsaw) and Peter Goldfinger, and stars Chris Rock (Lethal Weapon 4, I Think I Love My Wife, Pootie Tang), Max Minghella (The Social Network, The Handmaid’s Tale), Marisol Nichols (24, Riverdale), and Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Glass).

The story begins with a gruesome death that leads the police to believe there’s a Jigsaw Killer copycat on the loose. In short order, Detective Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks (Chris Rock), an incorruptible detective, fights to take charge of the investigation. All evidence points to Zeke’s dad, Marcus Banks (Samuel Jackson) committing the murders. To complicate matters further, he’s given the duty of riding with rookie Detective William Schenk (Max Minghella) in much the way we’ve seen many times in buddy cop movies. Although, they downplay the buddy cop aspect.  

Chris Rock isn’t horrible here. He plays to his strengths, giving what amounts to a dark stand-up routine for most of the runtime. This almost works, but Rock's penchant for yelling most of his lines gets annoying. Still, pairing him with Sam Jackson makes sense, if only because they have a similar delivery. Yes, there’s room for improvement, but I think Chris Rock possesses the talent to bridge the gap. Maybe in the next installment, if they make another one. 

Sam Jackson elevates the picture and except in a flashback scene where he sports a laughably fake mustache (Rock has an equally ridiculous goatee) he works pretty well as Rock’s dad and retired police chief.  

There are some gross-outs but not a lot of scares. Although, the last scene provides a good amount of tension. Spiral plays more like neo-noir crime fiction with some gore than a horror movie. The killings are more important than the suspense of trying to solve the killer’s puzzle. 

The plot is pretty predictable, but the ending is done well and not telegraphed too badly. My wife figured out who the killer was before I did. They peppered enough clues along the way to not feel cheated during the final reveal. 

Spiral was far stronger than I expected and worked fairly well. Although not the best movie in the franchise, I’d still watch the next installment. 

Spiral is available for streaming on STARZ. 

Story Doctoring:

Horror movies work better with a slow build. More character development and following the police department's growing tension would go a long way to improve the picture. The puzzle scenes would also benefit from more time and care.  

Rating: Three out of five stars.