The following article contains SPOILERS for Spiral: From the Book of Saw. If you don’t want the new horror movie spoiled for you, you might want to come back after you’ve seen it for yourself.
It's now been a full week since Spiral: From the Book of Saw was released in theaters. It's technically the ninth Saw move to date, but from the outset, it was clear that Spiral was going to be something a little different. It is a sequel, but it's also a spinoff. If successful, it may also potentially become a reboot for the franchise that made its name on elaborate and gory traps that forced victims to make terrible choices. It has to be said that, for the most part, the critics didn't care for the return of the Saw franchise, but how about the fans who went to see Spiral: From the Book of Saw in theaters?
It's probably far from shocking that, especially under modern circumstances, those who went to see Spiral: From the Book of Saw were likely to enjoy it. The movie was not released via VOD or streaming, so those who have seen it had to go to a theater. For the most part, fans do seem to appreciate the film. Let's dig into what works about it, and what doesn't, from the fan perspective.
Everybody Loves Chris (Rock)
If there one specific element that most fans truly are in agreement on, it's that Chris Rock is great in Spiral. While many horror franchises have their share of humor, Saw isn't exactly known for mixing much fun in with its gory, bloody death. Unless you find dismemberment funny, in which case perhaps you should see a specialist. However, many are singing the praises of Chris Rock's performance in Spiral. Rock is known as a comedian, and while his role as Detective Zeke Banks isn't a straight comedic performance, it has its moments where he will make you laugh, and it works.
But mixed in with the comedy is a dramatic turn as a cop trying to stop an unknown killer. Traditionally, Saw movies are about the traps, and the characters who are the focus are the potential victims of those traps. But Spiral is a more straightforward cat and mouse game, where Rock's character follows the clues looking for the bad guy, and it's a good place for Chris Rock to be. We haven't really seen that side of the Saw franchise since the very first movie, and there are clearly fans who would like to see more of it.
While the future of the Saw franchise is unclear, Spiral certainly leaves the door open not only for direct sequels of its own, but for the return of Chris Rock's character. Based on the general response, there are certainly people who would love to see that.
Spiral Is A Worthy, If Imperfect, Entry In The Saw Franchise
Spiral: From the Book of Saw is probably best called a "spinoff" of the Saw series of films. It takes place in the same universe as all the previous films, and many of the core elements are the same. But there's ultimately no need to have seen any of the previous Saw movies for this one to make sense. For those that do love the franchise though, despite its differences, Spiral still feels like it belongs in the larger story.
Everybody is going to have their own personal ranking of Saw movies that will vary slightly. For the most part, Spiral seems to be hitting right in the middle. It's not the worst, but it's not the best. Of course, even sticking Spiral right in the middle means the movie is better than half the franchise so far, and that's still pretty solid. Having said that, there are those who think Spiral really is something quite special, perhaps even on par with the movie that started it all.
Whether or not we'll get another Spiral movie is hard to tell, especially right now when box office numbers simply don't mean what they used to. But it seems clear there are a lot of fans that would love to see more.
Fans Are Split On Spiral's Ending
Of course, if there are many fans who consider Spiral to be just a good movie, not a great one, then there must be elements that not everybody loves. Probably the biggest of these for this particular film is its ending. The ending of Saw movies were always a big deal where everything came together, twists were unraveled and all was laid out for the audience. Spiral: From the Book of Saw does its own version of this, but not everybody thinks that it works. The word "predictable" comes up a lot when looking at fan reactions, which is not a word you want to hear when a mystery is at the heart of your story.
Which is not to say that everybody disliked the ending. There are those who were apparently blown away by the finale. Even if you figured out what was going on and who was behind all the grisly traps, there's enough going on in that ending that it might still be enough to wow you, and it certainly was that for some people.
The ending is always quite important in Saw movies; when done well, it can reframe the entire movie up to that point and cause fans to see things in a different way. This is, perhaps, not one of those twists. But then again, they can't all be winners.
In summation, Chris Rock is great, the Spiral ending is maybe not and everything put together results in a new Saw movie that probably won't be your favorite, but you probably won't hate it either. It's perhaps not a glowing endorsement, but certainly things could have been much worse. The current rumor is that there might be another Saw movie on the horizon that is likely a more direct sequel to the core franchise. But it does look like there would be an audience for another Spiral movie as well, if one were so inclined to develop the project.