Spiral: From the Book of Saw

What the hell is the Book of Saw? I mean that is a grand way of referring to a series of very schlocky horror thrillers which by all accounts get progressively worse as they go. I’ve not seen all of them but from what I can gather what started as an examination of what unimaginably violent things people are prepared to do to preserve their way of life, turned into an examination of different unimaginably violent ways of ending a life. It did tell us something about human nature but only in that it showed how people are more likely to turn up to watch a dumb movie about the latter rather than a smart one about the former. Either way, this is not friggin Lord of the Rings. It just doesn’t deserve the designation. This is like talking about the Book of Sharknado or The Book of Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Part of the issue is that the people behind this film somehow seem to think they are making Se7en. There are parts here that seem to be imitating this and other great police dramas but by working to tie this to the existing franchise, presumably due to a desire for brand recognition and some curious respect for the previous material, they drag themselves down rather than elevate the concept.

I’m possibly being harsh, this film is not trash but series convention does mean it is unnecessarily graphic and in being so it loses some class. David Fincher’s 1995 Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman film was nasty in places but it knew where the line was and danced along it. Spiral spins away from the line, clapping and giggling with grim glee as body parts are torn off in close up. Still, as soon as they decided that this was going to be a new chapter in this ‘book’ that was not only inevitable but necessary. What wasn’t necessary was making this a Saw film at all. When you are wincing at the violence you are brought out of the drama. Also, I thought you were supposed to be able to save yourself from these murderous contraptions if you made the hard choice but I guess they felt they couldn’t disappoint the gore hounds which is the misguided decision that kills the film along with all those poor victims.

There is cliche around this too; there is the maverick detective with the classic sports car he very couldn’t afford on a cop salary, there is the shouty police chief (albeit a woman this time which is kind of refreshing) and there is the rookie that our hero doesn’t want to be partnered with. As it is though Chris Rock and Max Minghella aren’t bad stand ins for Freeman and Pitt. Rock is particularly strong in a move away from comedy films that he started with the Fargo TV show. I’m not sure why Samuel L. Jackson is involved but here he is.

Unfortunately it does all come apart at the end which feels really silly even by these standards and seems to be rushing not toward a resolution but a sequel. Guessing whether there is going to be one or not is moot as there are nine of these movies already. I don’t think I’ll bother with any more though.

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