There are few film series that can have me excited for opening week on their ninth outing, but Saw is definitely on that list. I remember when the first posters came out for the original film and it was not quite the same 24 second attention span world we live in now, I saw a poster with just the title and the line ‘DARE YOU SEE SAW’. As a massive horror fan, I was not disappointed. Ironically, and rarely, the original in this series is in no way the best IMHO. Saw II and Saw IV get my vote for the best. Like Star Trek I guess. Darren Lynn Bousman brought us both of those and so I was super excited to see him return for his 4th Saw Trek. Spoiler – He does not disappoint.
Much has been made of Chris Rock coming into the series and he is definitely the high point of Spiral, but lest we forget Cary Elwes and Danny Glover were in the original so it is not the B-Movie series that detractors paint it as, hell Donnie NKOTB Wahlberg was one of the high points and I will defend that dude till the end. But we do perhaps have Chris Rock’s love of the series for bringing it back to life – I have heard a great story of Bousman being sent the script and getting a few pages through and realising ‘holy shit, this is a Saw movie!’ It is definitely a Saw movie but there is some expansion of the world, taking in the classic cop movie, Seven, The French Connection, Dirty Harry, these are all mixed into the action if you know where to look.
Rock himself is fantastic here, as the son of a cop great, you can feel the pressure he feels throughout and the scenes with him and his screen father Samuel L Jackson are utter gold, I wish there were more of them. Max Minghella is also great as the rookie that Rock’s Zeke has to take under his wing, he is just utterly likeable, however many times Zeke tries to warn him his wife might be off doing Pilates “I learned Pilates does not exist!” He’s essentially Callaghan’s second in the first Dirty Harry. And that’s quite a compliment.
Soooo….you want to know about the traps? If you have a problem with flesh wounds, tongues, fingers, there are plenty of nightmares here. My heart was flicking like a broken bulb when I came out of the cinema, Spiral makes you care about people and then…Poof! It takes them away. There are many many twists and turns, I thought I had the answer and then…the next trap made that impossible. I was sure finally and suddenly, another twist. Brilliant.
I can’t say Spiral is a return to form as I have always been in love with this series but I can say that it is in the higher echelon of the Saw films and anyone who has ever dipped their toe, or lost their toe, into the world of Jigsaw is going to love it.