I finally did it.
After years and YEARS of hemming and hawing and chickening out of watching a new Saw film in theaters when I had the chance, I finally summoned my courage and went to see Spiral: From the Book of Saw in theaters.
Here’s the good news: I did make it through the entire film without bailing out. Since this was my first time watching a Saw film in theaters, that was huge for me and I’m so proud of myself for making it all the way through.
However….is the film any good? Well, I’m not entirely sure and that’s a big part of what I wanted to talk about in this review.
Here’s the thing about the story of Saw: after the conclusion of Saw: The Final Chapter, I thought the long and twisted story of the Jigsaw Killer had finally come to an emphatic end, rendering the need for any future sequels nonexistent. That’s why I ignored the Jigsaw film when it came out, it didn’t seem necessary. After all, in-story the Jigsaw Killer died a LONG time ago, what more could the story possibly tell us?
As it turns out, Spiral: From the Book of Saw decided there was in fact more to be told. But not, and I cannot emphasize this enough, NOT in the way you might expect if you’ve watched the previous 8 films. For most of its runtime, Spiral: From the Book of Saw does not play like a Saw film, even the trap sequences feel different in a way that I can’t quite put my finger on. Oh, the classic “Saw death trap” look is there, but if you compare these traps to the ones in, say, Saw II or Saw III, there’s a distinct difference in how they play out. I can’t decide if that’s good or bad, but it was disappointing, because even in the midst of my fear and discomfort, I could tell that the earlier films would’ve scared me MORE than what this film was doing.
However, there were promising glimmers in this story that spent most of its time trying to decide what type of film it wanted to be. It felt like Spiral was yo-yo’ing between being a twisted cop drama and a traditional Saw film. Which is to say, outside of the trap sequences, it doesn’t feel like a Saw film at all (even the references to John Kramer didn’t help). But as I said, there was a glimmer of promise that came in the last 5-10 minutes of the film when the story finally came together as only a Saw film can. Once all of the puzzle pieces were assembled and the true diabolical plot laid bare, I was enraptured (if utterly terrified). There is the potential for a fantastic new villain here, one that I desperately want to see explored in a sequel.
I didn’t think anyone could top the twisted logic of John Kramer’s Jigsaw, but THIS new villain, oh they proved me wrong. If a sequel is permitted to go forward, I would love to see what this character could do now that we know who and what they are. Plus, given how the film ends, it’s fairly obvious the door is wide open for this sequel to happen. But will we get that sequel? I’m not sure, like I said most of the film is pretty uneven and can’t decide what type of film it wants to be. I think it might have worked slightly better if they’d leaned a little more into the traditional ‘Saw movie’ mold, but I also understand why the filmmakers would want to try a different format too.
If the goal of Spiral: From the Book of Saw was to scare and terrify, then congratulations it succeeded with me, because I stumbled out of the theater an absolute wreck (though I admit I do scare easily). For that alone, I have to call this film at the very least a passable success.
But was it GOOD? Well, no, not really. Now that the adrenaline has worn off, I can admit that much. It had its enjoyable moments, and I was never bored, but there was too much back and forth in tone to make this film “good.”
Maybe I’m wrong though. Let me know what YOU think about Spiral: From the Book of Saw in the comments below and have a great day!
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