Spiral review: Chris Rock’s horror sequel fails to reinvent the Saw franchise

The film merely picks up the central ‘trap’ theme and transplants it into the narrative structure of a CSI episode

Spiral: Saw sequel trailer

Dir: Darren Lynn Bousman. Starring: Chris Rock, Max Minghella, Marisol Nichols, Samuel L Jackson. Cert 18, 93 mins

Horror franchises have a terrible habit of drowning themselves in their own lore. It’s especially true of Saw, which took the relatively simple premise of “victim wakes up in nasty contraption; contraption demands blood sacrifice if they hope to escape” and made it as waffly and complex as JRR Tolkien’s The Silmarillion. The latest instalment, Spiral: From the Book of Saw, was heavily marketed as a clean break from what came before – a film that’s technically part of the same timeline, but spiritually feels like a reboot.

We were also promised a daring new vision courtesy of, surprisingly, comedian and actor Chris Rock. Though he didn’t direct, nor did he (officially) write the screenplay, Rock – a long-time fan of the franchise – bumped into a Lionsgate executive at a wedding and pitched an idea that was supposedly too electrifying to resist. That excitement doesn’t seem to have transferred to the film itself. Spiral doesn’t reinvent the Saw franchise; it merely picks up the central “trap” theme and transplants it into the narrative structure of a CSI episode. It’s hammy and predictable, where it should be lean and nasty.

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