Review Roundup For Spiral: From The Book of Saw

The latest Saw movie finally releases this week, and the first reviews are in.

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Spiral: From the Book of Saw is the ninth movie in the long-running Saw franchise, and it hits theaters on May 14. The horror thriller stars Chris Rock and is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, who helmed three of the previous films.

Rock plays detective Ezekiel Banks, who is investigating a series of gruesome murders that are reminiscent of the work of infamous and long-dead killer Jigsaw. His partner is played by Max Minghella, while Samuel L. Jackson appears as Banks's father, a former cop whose reputation casts a long shadow across his son's career.

Spiral was originally set for release in May last year, but like most big movies in 2020, was pushed forward to this year. It finally arrives this week, and reviews are now online. Despite its huge commercial success, the Saw series has never been very popular with critics, and Spiral is proving to be no expectation. The movie currently holds 53% on Rotten Tomatoes--but Lionsgate and the filmmakers won't care if the film hits the commercial heights of some of the earlier films. So here's what the critics have said about this latest slice of gore-soaked horror...

Spiral: From the Book of Saw

  • Directed By: Darren Lynn Bousman
  • Written By: Josh Stolberg, Peter Goldfinger
  • Starring: Chris Rock, Max Minghella, Marisol Nichols, Samuel L. Jackson
  • Release Date: May 14

The AV Club

"It's not a waste of a concept, exactly. But it's not the reinvention that the franchise needs, either. Rock's involvement brings some new blood to Spiral, but after a promising start, the film just becomes a pretty okay Saw movie with some bigger names than usual--one whose jaundiced lighting and procedural storytelling recall David Fincher's Se7en more than anything. If the game was to see if a fresh take on a long-running franchise could survive being sliced and diced by the sequel machine, consider it lost."--Katie Rife [Full review]

Bloody Disgusting

"The smaller scale means a smaller body count and also makes essential plot points easier to decipher ahead of reveals. Still, Rock provides compelling rooting interest in a caustic character with righteous anger, and the film has a distinct sense of humor that offsets some of its crime thriller grit. The traps bring the pain, but they take a backseat to Zeke's journey. Spiral brings style and substance, with a few chuckles to balance the gore. For this standalone entry, Bousman subverts familiarity and reinvigorates the franchise by substantially expanding and evolving the Saw universe."--Meagan Navarro [Full review]

The Hollywood Reporter

"Spiral delivers when it comes to gore, if that's your thing, and appropriately dour aesthetics--but not much else. That's a shame, because the story's themes, from the unreformable nature of the police department to the cost of integrity in a space that values power above all else, could not be more relevant. If the mission was, as Bousman has suggested, to create a Saw film driven by a strong narrative instead of gruesome torture, it hasn't been fully accomplished."--Lovia Gyarkye [Full review]

Slashfilm

"Spiral blunders through its central mystery without grace or style, or even much thought. Even the death traps are weirdly uninspired. One of them pulls a guy's fingers off; another drips hot wax onto someone's face. C'mon, Spiral--is that all you've got? It's as if no one's heart is really in this, and everyone is just going through the motions – save for the make-up effects team, who go all-out with as much blood and gore as they possibly can."--Chris Evangelista [Full review]

Total Film

"That a formula as well-trodden as Saw's can still surprise, delight, and make you feel like you need a quick shower after is impressive. But Spiral is also that rarest of reboots – one that will satisfy series die-hards and a whole new generation of horror nuts. Well played."--Jordan Farley [Full review]

IndieWire

"If the basic feel of the franchise hasn't changed — it's still ugly and cheap and thoroughly uninterested in getting branded as "elevated horror" — the idea to extrapolate Jigsaw's schtick toward societal problems is a smart one. If nothing else, Spiral is the first “Saw” movie in a very long time that might leave people open to the idea of seeing another one."--David Ehrlich [Full review]

The Wrap

"If Spiral: From the Book of Saw works--and I am not convinced that it does--it's because Rock, Bousman and cinematographer Oram are committed to taking this shallow material seriously. The screenplay captures the grizzled-cop-movie tone and draws some memorable characters, but the storyline is rote, the mystery is frustratingly predictable, and the imaginative deaths are less imaginative than ever. Spiral sacrifices entertainment value for respectability and in the process doesn't quite achieve either."--William Bibbiani [Full review]

ComicBook

"Spiral: From the Book of Saw almost immediately shows off just how much more entertaining and impressive a sequel in the series can be when it focuses on story and character as opposed to unsettling the audience, but it fails to come out from under its own legacy, still culminating in an "unexpected" finale. Longtime fans will surely appreciate the new approach to the concept, yet it offers little to win over those doubtful about how much potential the concept ever had in the first place."--Patrick Cavanaugh [Full review]

Collider

"As a breezy crime-thriller mixed with Saw stuff, I found Spiral better than the original if only because it never pretends to have an emotional core. Spiral knows we're in it for the thrills, and so it rarely tries to be anything more than gory entertainment. With Rock throwing in jokes and the crime-thriller framework, there's no overwrought melodrama here, and while the social commentary is so thin as to be non-existent, at least it never overshadows the cheap thrills that Spiral delivers."--Matt Goldberg [Full review]

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