Spiral: From the Book of Saw is the latest entry into the Saw franchise and like many movies during the ongoing COVID pandemic, it’s enjoying a dual release, one in theaters and the other across various streaming services. This newest addition, from the mind of comedian Chris Rock, and co-starring Sam Jackson, sits at number two on Amazon Prime rentals in the U.S.
Spiral stars Chris Rock as police detective Zeke Banks and Sam Jackson as his father, retired police chief Marcus Banks. The story follows Rock’s Banks and his rookie partner Detective William Schenk (Max Minghella) as they begin to investigate grisly murders that are beginning to resemble the work of Jigsaw, the serial killer who terrorized the city not long ago.
As with most Saw movies, this follows the same pattern of gory murders along with a revelation you may or may not see coming. Worry not, there will be no spoilers to follow.
The Saw franchise began 17 years ago in 2004 with the surprise hit Saw, which helped usher in torture porn. Back then, Sam Jackson was starring in Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Vol. 2 and doing voice work for The Incredibles. The original Saw film was created by horror masterminds James Wan and Leigh Whannell, who have stayed on throughout the series as executive producers. Whannell wrote the first and third movies in the series while also co-writing the second. The franchise consists of nine feature films in total.
For those unfamiliar with the Saw setup, it revolves around serial killer John Kramer, who is simply known as Jigsaw. While his introduction in the first movie was very brief, subsequent movies dove deeper into his character, explaining why he was doing what he did.
Jigsaw, instead of simply outright killing his victims, would set up elaborate traps in order to give his victims a chance at redemption. These victims would have committed atrocities in one way or another that Kramer felt needed addressing. If they could survive these brutal tests, then in his eyes they would be rehabilitated. Kramer was killed in the third movie of the series but in the Saw movies that followed, his story, along with his apprentices, was told.
The franchise became a yearly release, typically close to Halloween. The first seven films in the franchise enjoyed an October release beginning in 2004 with the final one in 2010. Saw 3D, the seventh film, was intended to be the final film and for a good number of years, that looked to be the case. If it had worked out that way, Chris Rock and Sam Jackson never would have been touched the franchise. But with all things popular in Hollywood, franchises never stay dead.
Jigsaw came to movie theaters almost seven years to the day after Saw 3D. It was directed by the Spierig Brothers from a script written by Josh Stolberg & Peter Goldfinger, bringing Jigsaw’s game to a new generation. While not a hit with critics (imagine that), fans loved it. Perhaps there would be more Saw in the near future.
Chris Rock’s involvement was happenstance. He had been at a friend’s wedding when he ran into the head of Lionsgate’s film group. The two began talking and Rock offered compliments toward their Saw franchise, suggesting that if they were to ever make a new one that it should be in the comedic vein of Eddie Murphy’s 48 Hours. A few weeks later, Rock got a call from Saw producer Mark Burg. The two struck a deal not only for Rock to develop the story, but to also star in it.
“I’ve been a fan of Saw since the first film in 2004,” Chris Rock told Variety. “I am excited by the opportunity to take this to a really intense and twisted new place.” When Rock finally pitched his new Saw idea to Lionsgate, they were thrilled to get started, unaware that Sam Jackson would soon join the team.
“When Chris Rock came to us and described in chilling detail his fantastic vision that reimagines and spins off the world of the notorious Jigsaw Killer, we were all-in,” said Joe Drake, chairman of Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group, to Variety. “Saw is one of the highest-grossing horror franchises of all time and it’s one of Lionsgate’s most successful film series. This upcoming film will still be as mind-bending and intense as all the previous Saw films. Chris conceived this idea and it will be completely reverential to the legacy of the material while reinvigorating the brand with his wit, creative vision, and passion for this classic horror franchise.”
Chris Rock took his idea to scribes Goldfinger and Stolberg, who crafted a tidy story. Darren Lynn Bousman is back in the director’s chair after having performed those same duties for Saw II, Saw III, and Saw IV. While the pairing of Rock with the horror elements of Saw is a big deal, an even bigger get was Sam Jackson as his father.
Sam Jackson is a legend in his own time. Jungle Fever, Menace II Society, Jurassic Park, and Die Hard With A Vengeance are just a few. Then you’ve got the biggies: Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, the Unbreakable series as well as anything Marvel-related. He’s done it all, he’s even “had it with these motherf*cking snakes on this motherf*cking plane.”
The big question surrounding Spiral: does Sam Jackson get to drop a few classic F-bombs while attempting to deal with potential Jigsaw games? Check out Spiral: From the Book of Saw and let us know what you think.