My History With the Film:
I really crazy excited for the first Saw film back in 2004. Horror was struggling at the time and Saw and House of 1,000 Corpses were the two films on the horizon that would save it. Saw definitely made an impact and led to eight sequels being produced introduced the United States to the subgenre of torture porn.
I’m not the biggest torture porn fan and I haven’t seen all the Saw movies. I enjoyed the first film, but I wouldn’t say I’m a fan. That brings me to Spiral. The idea of Samuel L Jackson and Chris Rock participating in a Saw movie was enough to make me want to see it. I watched it the same weekend as The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It and I enjoyed Spiral quite a bit more than The Conjuring.
What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A good cop on the wrong side of a corrupt department is on the hunt for a Jigsaw copycat hunting crooked cops.
What I Liked About It:
-The film does a great job at attempting to look more like Se7en than a Saw film. Everyone is sweating and the environment is always grimey, a lot like the characters that we are forced to spend time with.
-The ending is tight and very solid. In fact, I honestly believe it saved the movie. For the most part the movie is slow and not a lot happens, but once the reveal takes place things pick up and the movie ends well. I appreciate the film wrapping things up in such a manner and it made the slow parts worth it overall.
What I Didn’t Like About It:
-Not a lot happens after the opening scene, which while solid, is ruined by some terrible CGI. Which is a shame, because CGI overly prevalent throughout the rest of the movie. I’m not sure why the filmmakers decided to ruin their opening scene with it.
-Because we are half-invested in this corrupt police force plot line and Chris Rock is attempting to channel a tough as nails cop with a chip on his shoulder, we kinda lose the horror element of the film. The movie plays out like a cheesy 90’s cop thriller with a few horror set pieces. It’s almost like the film had an identity crisis or was a different script where elements of Saw were added.
-I’m not a fan of having big name actors in my horror films. It’s hard for me to see a police chief when I see Samuel L. Jackson, because I can’t get over Samuel L. Jackson being in a Saw film.
-They tip their hat a little early on who the killer is. It became quite apparent a good twenty minutes before the final scene due to some overshowing in other scenes.
-The director, Darren Lynn Bousman, previously directed Saw II, III, and IV.
-It took eleven submissions to the MPAA to score the “R” rating. All previous attempts garnered an NC-17 rating.
Spiral isn’t a bad film, it just isn’t a good film either. Is it a Saw film? Eh… I don’t know. Is it a good police thriller? Eh… I don’t know. I’m quite neutral about the whole experience and I don’t see myself revisiting this film anytime in the future. I’m just not sure if I should recommend it to fans of Saw or fans of people who didn’t like Saw.
Either way, I say Spiral is a three out of five and watch it if you’re curious.