Spiral CPE
Spiral: From The Book of Saw – 2021

Director Darren Lynn Bousman
Screenplay Josh Stolberg, Peter Goldfinger, Chris Rock
Starring Chris Rock, Max Minghella, Marisol Nichols, Samuel L. Jackson

When it comes down to it, there is nothing that beats having someone who can act take the reins of a series. For eight movies, we had a slew of B movie actors rush through decent plots to a muted effect. The horror on screen in the Saw series has been as graphic as anything that came before it. They just rarely found anyone worth saving after the first couple of films. In fact, other than Tobin Bell, one might be hard pressed to recognize anyone on the screen most of the time.

Chris Rock had decided he wanted to branch out into horror, and after the putrid last film in the Saw series, Jigsaw, he bravely decided the series as being suitable for mining. He touched up a script by Stolberg and Goldfinger, grabbed Bousman out of straight to video and they went to work. What they created, in this non-fan’s estimation, is the best film of the series.

The story centers around Rock’s Zeke Banks, a good cop who is the son of a retired police chief, Marcus (Jackson). He’s antagonistic to the rest of his squad since he turned in a bad cop over a decade earlier. He is assigned a rookie cop played by Minghella, and he shows him the overly pessimistic ropes.

Their first case ends up being a foretelling of things to come, as a bad cop is found obliterated by a subway train. Clues are sent to Zeke that leads further down the case, as one cop after another is found in pieces, much in the same manner as the Jigsaw Killer.

It’s fairly obvious each turn that is taken. This is nothing different story wise than the previous entries. The improvement lay in Rock’s complete immersion into his role. He’s still funny as hell, but he is mad as hell, too. As his father, Jackson makes a great counterpart. Minghella has the innocence required to be a believable protege.

It is interesting how many different methods they still are able to employ after so many films. The justification for the activity feels much more solid than it has since film one. There is only one connection that completely falls flat. You’ll know it when it is explained.

Will this film become a classic? Perhaps not, but it sure is enjoyable. It is a minor miracle how they pulled off making the same old shit more enjoyable so far down the line. It’s not necessarily a reinvention, but the same story in better hands.

(***1/2 out of *****)

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