Chris Rock, the iconic multi-hyphenate comedian, is sharp. His rapid fire delivery and signature tone of voice serves up refreshing candour with a touch of weary resignation.
It’s with this pitch that SPIRAL hopes to angle itself for a new generation – horror served with some gritty levity from Rock – something that the chance meeting between him and Lionsgate vice chairman, Michael Burns ignited, and CEO Joe Drake approved.
Sadly, the new chapter fails to uphold the very institute it seeks to enliven. While Rock’s trademark banter is just as witty, it’s buried beneath the weight of an unlikeable character.
Rock is detective “Zeke” Banks – the story’s anti-hero and his station’s black sheep. While the other cops think him disloyal for ratting out a corrupt colleague, the new chief (Marisol Nichols) is more upset with his renegade behaviour, to which she assigns rookie William Schenk (Max Minghella) in the hopes to keep him in check. Just in time too, because a new Jigsaw copycat is in town.
As the new killer stacks up the bodycount, it becomes clear the person is out for our men in blue, sending a shiver down the spines of the corrupted force, but this is where SPIRAL starts to fall apart.
The new traps, as diabolically gory as they are to SAW’s DNA, doesn’t excite as much, because the film hardly leaves time for the victims to react. In one case, all tension is taken out by revealing the death first. And in another, the option presented isn’t even compelling.
John Kramer, however, demented his thinking was, created his work to be poetic justice, and bonafide if extreme lessons. The victims stood a chance, if they understood his message. SPIRAL fails his legacy by reducing the new agenda into something that feels a lot more bitter, which in turn results in a much less elegant script.
It doesn’t help that the cast barely moves past their cardboard selfs – none of them become more than just meat on the block with one-note performances – and main duo Zeke and William are no better with their gaping lack of chemistry. Doesn’t help that Rock looks uncomfortably wooden in his facial delivery.
While fans can still enjoy much of the bloodbath and macabre tribulations, this new chapter from the “books of SAW” should be quickly passed over for its weak thrills and empty characters.