Wednesday, July 21, 2021

[Blu-ray Review] - Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021)

Yesterday, Lionsgate Home Entertainment released Spiral: From the Book of Saw (R; 93 minutes) on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD. It's also available on Digital and Demand.

The Saw film series is one of the slickest and sickest horror franchises in recent years. I've been a fan of these films ever since I rented Saw on VHS in early 2005. (Yes, I know I'm old.) While there have been a few half-ass sequels (Saw V and Saw 3D), I've continued to watch each new film, even 2007's reboot sequel Jigsaw. I was skeptical when I first heard that Chris Rock would produce and star in the spinoff Spiral: From the Book of Saw. Sure, he's good at comedy, but I had my doubts he could carry a horror film.

After being delayed for almost a year, Lionsgate released Spiral: From the Book of Saw to theaters on May 21, 2021. Despite my love for the Saw franchise, I didn't attempt to see the movie in theaters. Why? The only theater in my area is currently closed. The film received mixed to negative reviews from critics and filmgoers. It only made $37.5 million at the box office against a $20 million budget.

Blu-ray Special Features include:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Darren Lynn Bousman, Co-Screenwriter Josh Stolberg, and Composer Charlie Clouser
  • Audio Commentary with Producers Oren Koules and Mark Burg
  • The Consequences of Your Actions: Creating Spiral
  • Drawing Inspirations: Illustrated Trap Breakdowns
  • Decoding The Marketing Spiral
  • Theatrical Teaser Trailer
  • Theatrical Trailer

Final Thoughts

I, for one, was hoping Spiral: From the Book of Saw would rejuvenate the franchise, but sadly that's not the case. Instead, it's a pointless sequel that adds nothing new to the series. The not-so-good Saw entries had at least creative death traps and gore. Sadly, the ones in Spiral are a disappointment. There are a few bloody scenes, but thanks to the MPA, the goriness was left on the cutting room floor. According to Darren Lynn Bousman, the MPA gave the film an NC-17 11 times before trimming enough scenes to get an R rating. It would have been nice if Lionsgate had released an Unrated Blu-ray as they did with most of the Saw sequels, but all we get is a theatrical cut.

The plot is as standard as you get. A Jigsaw copycat killer is killing off police officers, and it's up to Detective Ezekiel "Zeke" Banks (Chris Rock) and his rookie partner William Schenk (Max Minghella) to investigate the gruesome murders. Samuel L. Jackson pops in for a few scenes. He plays Zeke's police veteran father, who gives him some advice and hangs around for the final act. That pretty much sums up the entire film. The ending twist is underwhelming and predictable. I guessed the killer's identity at the halfway mark.

Chris Rock star as Detective Ezekiel "Zeke" Banks in Spiral.
(Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer)

The acting is a mixed bag for me. Chris Rock does the best he can do with the cringy dialogue that the writers gave him. Samuel L. Jackson is a scene-stealer, even though his screentime is limited. The rest of the cast was horrible with their roles. It's not that they're all bad actors. I'm putting full blame on the casting directors and the writers. Now, I'm not blaming Darren Lynn Bousman's directing. Spiral marks the fourth time he has sat in the director's chair for the Saw franchise, and it's one of the better-looking films out of the bunch. Yes, there are some editing issues, but that's more to do with the MPA cuts than anything else.

Samuel L. Jackson stars as 'Marcus' in Spiral.
Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer

Overall, Spiral: From the Book of Saw is the worst entry in the Saw franchise. Yep, it's worse than Saw V. The idea of a copycat Jigsaw killer going after cops sounds good on paper, but it's poorly executed on screen thanks to a wooden script, choppy editing, and the MPA hounds.

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