Spiral: From The Book of SaW is not only one of Chris Rock’s best performances but the best entry into the SaW franchise for quite some time.

Community Rating: 58.53% (2 votes)

Director(s) Darren Lynn Bousman
Screenplay By Josh Stolberg, Pete Goldfinger
Date Released (Theatrical) 5/13/2021
Genre(s) Action, Crime, Drama, Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Duration 1 Hour 33 Minutes
Rating R
Noted Cast
Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks Chris Rock
Marcus Banks Samuel L. Jackson

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Film Summary

For nearly 12 years, Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks has taken a lot of s*** for turning in his former partner who killed a witness of a crooked cop. Because of this, Zeke has been on everyone’s s*** list, and even when he was in need of backup, not a single one of his fellow cops showed up – thus leading to him almost dying when he got shot.

However, even with his son nearly dying because of the cops under his command, former police chief Marcus Banks never truly recovered from his son snitching on another cop. Thus, they became distant, even as Zeke’s marriage fell apart and Zeke’s career as a cop became more dangerous.

But, with Zeke standing up for those not protected under Marcus’ Article 8 – which was used to “Clean Up The City,” it makes him the perfect target for the new Jigsaw. Someone who aims to get rid of crooked cops only and thus picks off Zeke’s co-workers one by one and tasks Zeke with finding them. Them being the cops and the new Jigsaw.

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: The traps alone are the reason for the R rating. Be it someone’s tongue getting ripped out, bodies skinned, shot with glass, and just the usual body mutilation SaW is known for. Though, of course, there is drinking, smoking, and cursing too.
  • Jump Scares/ Laughs/ Tear-Jerking Moments: When the killer snatches people up, you may experience a jump scare or two.

Review/ Commentary

It Doesn’t Overstay It’s Welcome

Marcus (Samuel L. Jackson) investigating a scene

Clocking in around 90 minutes, Spiral is in and out, doesn’t hold a lot of fluff, and is fairly to the point. Granted, maybe at the cost of showing up just how brutal some of the traps are, but it seems Spiral desires to make the traps an asset and not the whole reason to see the movie – and it accomplishes that.

There Is A Story With Emotion Here

Between feelings of betrayal, distrust, father/son issues, grief, and things of that nature, Spiral illicit more emotions than what most horror films exhibit. It goes beyond fear and pushes you to feel something for Zeke as the lives of the people he had good or uneasy relationship die. Also, while their relationship is complicated, Zeke and Marcus are still father and son, and with Zeke going through a divorce, we can kind of see that bringing them back together. Which builds up to an ending that will really get you in your emotions.

Having Crooked Cops Hunted Presents A Decent Spin

More often than not, cops are the good guys, and even when they are anti-heroes, the ends justify the means. Spiral flips that and reminds you of who is hurt when the focus is the end result and damn the collateral damage to get there. Which, admittedly, was nice to see.

Mind you, this isn’t to say we hate cops, but as Zeke notes to his new partner William, there is a code of protection, the Blue Wall if you will. Because of this, there is the question of whether there are good cops or just people who haven’t used excessive force? For there probably are many like Zeke who witnessed something but didn’t speak up because of the brotherhood and loyalty expected. So, for some watching, this might be the cathartic release needed to see cops who lie on the stand, abuse their power, or rather protect their own rather than the community they serve.

The Traps May Make You Flinch

The new Jigsaw doesn’t compare to the old one, so the traps aren’t as elaborate, but they still are gruesome. Granted, if you are accustomed to violent films, seeing flesh ripped off, hearing people scream, things of that nature, then Spiral isn’t going to affect you much. However, if you aren’t desensitized to that? You will grimace at some of the graphic scenes in the film.


Zeke (Chris Rock) after dealing with a trap

Who Is This For?

Spiral is for those who want a balance between the gore you expect from a horror movie and the idea that films should have a story and not just filler between high octane moments.

Our Rating

Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)Recommended

Spiral could be the start of a new era for the SaW franchise (the ending does create a sequel opportunity) and perhaps a reminder that horror films need to be more than jump scares and gore. They need compelling stories that are accessible enough to be commercial but not so simple or complex to forget why the audience bought a ticket. Which, yes, is a hard balance, but we’d submit Spiral figures it out.

Who Is This For?

It Doesn't Overstay It's Welcome - 87%
There Is A Story With Emotion Here - 86%
Having Crooked Cops Hunted Presents A Decent Spin - 85%
The Traps May Make You Flinch - 83%


Spiral is for those who want a balance between the gore you expect from a horror movie and the idea that films should have a story and not just filler between high octane moments.

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I started Wherever I Look back in 2011 and have aimed to be that friend who loves watching various forms of media and talking about it. So, from bias, strong opinions, and a perspective you may not have thought about, you'll find that in our reviews.

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