Saw spin-off is a decent police story with TONS of gore.
Based on 5 reviews
Based on 23 reviews
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Spiral (formerly titled Spiral: From the Book of Saw) is the ninth movie in the Saw horror franchise. It's a spin-off rather than a sequel; it focuses on a new character, Detective Zeke Banks (Chris Rock), as he tries to catch a possible Jigsaw copycat killer. Violence and gore are extremely strong, with torture scenes, body parts ripped off, faces burned, blood drained, an electrocution, flesh skinned and sliced up with broken glass, a body decimated by a moving train, and more. A woman is the victim of one torturous machine. There are also guns and shooting, dead animals, and jump scares. Language is likewise extremely strong, with constant uses of "f--k," plus "motherf----r," "s--t," the "N" word, and more. There's some sex-related dialogue (largely about marriage and infidelity). A character snorts cocaine in a brief shot, characters pay a visit to a meth dealer, meth is discussed, and someone smokes a cigarette.
This Movie Spirals Out of Control
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Decent saw film
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What's the Story?
In SPIRAL, police detective Zeke Banks (Chris Rock) -- son of the legendary Captain Marcus Banks (Samuel L. Jackson) -- has endured years of hate and harassment in his New York precinct for turning in a dirty cop. After an undercover job goes wrong, the current captain (Marisol Nichols) assigns Banks a rookie partner, William Schenk (Max Minghella). Their first assignment is to check out the decimated body of a man who was hit by a train. They discover that the body belongs to one of their colleagues, a friend of Zeke's. Before long, another cop dies, the victim of a brutal torture machine. Soon they start getting messages and packages filled with body parts, which is reminiscent of the Jigsaw killer. Can Zeke solve the puzzle before more cops die?
Is It Any Good?
The expected gimmicky torture/gore scenes in this Saw spin-off seem a little out of place in what's otherwise a decently moody, intense police story. The ninth movie in a series that left off in 2017 with Jigsaw, Spiral is, like the original 2004 Saw, a gore/horror film on the surface and a murder mystery at heart. It's more than just another sequel that copies the formula. It actually evokes David Fincher's Seven or Zodiac more than it does any of the previous Saw movies, with its hardened, veteran detective, fresh-faced rookie, and brutal crimes.
The movie creates a potent big-city vibe, dense and heightened, but not without moments of familiarity and comfort. In his role, Rock offers an impressive, modulated performance, finding ways to slip his persona into the character with a few funny jabs here and there. But he remains rooted in Zeke's real pain and moral dilemma. It's too bad that director Darren Lynn Bousman -- who also helmed Saw II, Saw III, and Saw IV -- misses a chance to connect Black characters with police corruption in a meaningful way, and the movie's torture sequences almost seem like asides; they could be cut down (or out altogether) and the story wouldn't suffer. They also create a flaw that provides an early clue to the final reveal. But thanks to Rock and the movie's atmosphere, Spiral actually works in a roundabout way.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Spiral's violence. How did the intensely gory sequences affect you? Do you think they really need to be included? Why, or why not?
What's the appeal of horror movies? Why do people sometimes like being scared?
Did you notice any positive representation in Spiral? What about characters who could be considered role models?
Have you ever tried to do the right thing but faced some sort of repercussion for it?
How does this movie compare to the others in the Saw franchise? Is it more of the same? Does it go in a fresh direction?
- In theaters: May 14, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: July 20, 2021
- Cast: Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisol Nichols, Max Minghella
- Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture, pervasive language, some sexual references and brief drug use
- Last updated: January 2, 2023
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