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Jigsaw Spiral

Spiral: From the Book of Saw is a horror film directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and written by Josh Stolberg, Pete Goldfinger, and Chris Rock. It was the ninth film in the Saw franchise and was released on May 14, 2021.

Plot

During a parade on the Fourth of July, Detective Marv Bozwick pursues a purse snatcher named Benny Wrights into the canalization, where he is attacked and subdued by a pig-masked figure. Upon waking up again, Bozwick finds himself in a subway tunnel and is forced to stand on a stepladder positioned on the rails. His tongue is trapped in a vise-like contraption suspended from the ceiling. A videotape informs him that he has two minutes to jump off the ladder and rip out his tongue. Although Bozwick desperately tries to free himself, he ultimately fails to do so in time and is subsequently killed by the approaching subway train.

Meanwhile, Detective Ezekiel "Zeke" Banks infiltrates a drug ring but is exposed as a cop when one of his colleagues accidentally blows his cover. Angered by his solo efforts, the local precinct's captain, Angie Garza, introduces Zeke to his new partner, Detective William Schenk, who just joined the Metropolitan Police Department. Right afterward, they are called to the crime scene in the subway tunnel, where Bozwick was killed. Upon his return to the police station, Zeke receives a mysterious box containing a video recorded by the killer. The latter informs Zeke that he intends to reform the corrupt police department and leads him to the local courthouse. Shortly after arriving there, Zeke finds a second box with Bozwick's severed tongue and police badge, thereby discovering that his colleague was the victim in the subway tunnel. Due to Bozwick's gruesome demise, the police initially assume that a copycat of John Kramer, better known as the Jigsaw Killer, is responsible for the murder.

Sometime later, Detective Fitch is found dead in another trap set up by the killer. Years earlier, Fitch murdered a man who insulted him during a police check. After being abducted by the killer, the detective woke up inside a water-filled basin and had to activate a machine that would rip off his fingers. However, he failed to do so in time and was subsequently killed by a fatal electric shock. When Fitch's body is found, Zeke's colleagues begin suspecting him due to a past incident where Fitch ignored Zeke's call for back-up when the latter came under attack by an armed criminal, causing Zeke to get shot.

Later on, Zeke and William visit a church to interrogate Zeke's former partner, Peter Dunleavy. Dunleavy shot a witness named Charlie Emmerson to prevent him from testifying against another corrupt officer. Although he claimed to have acted in self-defense, Zeke did not believe him and ultimately arrested him, resulting in Dunleavy's discharge from the force and a prison sentence.

The next day, Zeke receives another box containing a pig marionette, a cut-off piece of skin, and a red vial labeled "Constantine Paints." The vial leads Zeke to a butcher shop, which used to be a hobby shop named Constantine Trains. Zeke's father, retired chief Marcus Banks, used to take him there in his childhood. The arriving officers find a skinned corpse in the back room of the butchery. Due to an audiotape discovered at the crime scene, the victim is identified as William Schenk.

Later that day, the killer assaults Captain Garza in the police station's cold-case room. Strapped to a table, she is told to sever her spinal cord with a sharp blade placed beneath her to stop a flow of hot-boiling wax emerging from a faucet. However, she cannot complete her task and suffocates as the wax covers her face. After Angie's body is found, Zeke reviews the surveillance recordings and discovers that the footage showing the corridor before the cold-case room at the time of the crime has been deleted. As the server's log-in data point towards Peter Dunleavy, Zeke returns to the church to interrogate his former partner but is subdued by the masked killer.

Zeke wakes up in a storage hall with his arm handcuffed to a pipe. Although the detective initially considers cutting off his shackled hand with a hacksaw, he eventually frees himself by opening the lock with a hairpin. Moments later, he notices Dunleavy, chained to the ceiling and forced to stand on a wooden box. Zeke finds another tape left by the killer, who confronts him with Dunleavy's corruption and offers him a choice to save him or let him die. Meanwhile, a glass-crushing machine shoots countless glass shards at Dunleavy. Albeit Zeke tries to free him, his former partner ultimately succumbs to his injuries.

While looking for a way out, Zeke comes across William Schenk, who merely faked his death. Revealing himself as the killer, William tells Zeke that the innocent man shot by Peter Dunleavy was his father. He adapted John Kramer's modus operandi to exact vengeance on the corrupt police system. The young man offers Zeke to join him in his mission to reform the Metropolitan Police Department. Initially, Zeke reluctantly agrees because William abducted his father, Marcus, after luring him to his hideout.

William forces Zeke to participate in a final game to test his loyalty and leads him to his father. The latter is suspended several feet above the floor while numerous tubes drain his blood from his body. William informs Zeke that Marcus abused his power as the former chief of police and, with Angie Garza's assistance, enacted a law named Article 8. Article 8 allowed several corrupt cops like Bozwick and Fitch to get away with their crimes. William hands Zeke a gun with a single bullet and tells him to either save his father and allow William to flee or kill William and sacrifice his father's life in the process. Meanwhile, William calls the police and informs them about a shootout to lure them to the hideout.

Zeke decides to save his father and shoots a spiral-shaped target, causing Marcus to be lowered to the floor. However, when he pursues William and brutally attacks him, a SWAT team arrives. As they open the door, they accidentally re-activate the trap. Marcus is lifted from the floor by several wires, turning him into a living marionette. Unable to resist, the machine lifts Marcus' arm, revealing a shotgun barrel affixed to it. Mistaking him for an armed assailant, the SWAT officers shoot Marcus and kill him before Zeke's eyes. Meanwhile, William escapes in an elevator.

Cast

Production

Following the release of Jigsaw, screenwriters Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger pitched a new Saw film focused solely on John Kramer. However, producers Mark Burg and Oren Koules eventually called them to inform them about a concept suggested to them by Chris Rock. Before that, Stolberg and Goldfinger had come up with eight different versions for the film before merging their ideas with Rock's. Rock aided Stolberg and Goldfinger during the writing process.

According to Rock, the origins of his involvement came from a chance meeting with the vice chairman of Lionsgate, Michael Burns, at a friend's wedding in Brazil. He felt doing something in the horror genre would be a new avenue to take in his career, though he planned to include some comedic elements in the film. Lionsgate's CEO Joe Drake said that Rock's idea was "completely reverential to the legacy of the material while reinvigorating the brand with his wit, creative vision, and passion for this classic horror franchise."

On May 16, 2019, Spiral: From the Book of Saw officially entered pre-production. Former series director Darren Lynn Bousman, who initially refused to direct another entry after Saw IV, turned down the chance to work on a Broadway show in New York City after Rock insisted he direct the film. Rock worked as an executive producer and starred as the film's primary protagonist, Detective Zeke Banks. With the announcement, Rock stated, "I've been a fan of Saw since the first film in 2004. I am excited by the opportunity to take this to a really intense and twisted new place." Burg and Koules said that Rock's treatment of Saw was comparable to what Eddie Murphy had done for buddy cop films in 48 Hrs., giving the series a "completely fresh perspective."

Likewise, Bousman stated that the new installment included less violence and gore, expressing the conviction that these elements were merely a gimmick for him back when he started working on the Saw films but would now serve the story in a meaningful way. Josh Stolberg also confirmed that the ninth installment would exist in the same canon as the previous eight films but would not be a direct sequel to Jigsaw.

Principal photography began on July 8, 2019, in Toronto, Ontario, under the working title of The Organ Donor, with Jordan Oram serving as cinematographer. Actors Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, Max Minghella, and Marisol Nichols were announced to be starring in the film. Joe Drake stated, "We think Samuel L. Jackson and Chris Rock, along with Max Minghella and Marisol Nichols, make this film completely special in the Saw canon and we can't wait to unleash this unexpected and sinister new story on fans of this franchise. This is next level of Saw on full tilt." On August 28, 2019, filming wrapped up. During post-production, editing was completed by Dev Singh.

Release

Distributed by Lionsgate Films in the United States, Spiral was initially scheduled for October 23, 2020. In July 2019, it was moved up to May 15, 2020. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the film's release was delayed to May 21, 2021, taking the spot previously scheduled for John Wick: Chapter 4, but was later rescheduled to May 14, 2021, as theaters began reopening.

On May 25, 2021, Lionsgate announced that Spiral would stream exclusively on Starz in the United States, starting on October 8, 2021. Spiral was released on PVOD on June 1, 2021, in Canada.

According to Darren Lynn Bousman, the film was given an NC-17 rating from the Motion Picture Association 11 times before receiving an R rating. Bousman had to cut and remove several scenes to achieve that goal, including a trap sequence where Detective Drury's face was ripped off.

Reception

By August 27, 2021, Spiral had grossed $23.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $17.3 million in other territories, earning $40.6 million worldwide. In the United States and Canada, Spiral was released alongside Those Who Wish Me Dead, Profile, and Finding You and was projected to gross $10–15 million from 2,811 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $3.7 million on its first day, lowering projections to $9 million. It debuted at $8.8 million, topping the box office but marking the lowest opening weekend of the franchise. The following weekend, it dropped by 48% to $4.6 million.

Critics praised Spiral's "attempts at changing up the franchise formula" but said it "ultimately falls short of giving Saw the major boost it needed to regain relevance." On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 37% of 218 critics were positive, with an average rating of 5.1/10. The site's critical consensus read, "Spiral: From the Book of Saw suggests an interesting new direction for the Saw franchise, even if the gory sum is rather less than its parts." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale. Likewise, PostTrak reported that 63% of audience members gave it a positive score, with 43% saying they would recommend it.

Soundtrack

Spiral's soundtrack was composed by Charlie Clouser, who had already been responsible for the soundtrack of the previous films. On May 21, 2021, it was released by Lakeshore Records. The soundtrack extended play of the movie was created by rapper 21 Savage. It was released alongside the movie's release on May 14, 2021. The EP featured guest appearances from his cousin Young Nudy, Real Recognize Rio, 21 Lil Harold, SG Tip, Millie Go Lightly, Gunna, and Young Thug. The production of the EP was handled by Kid Hazel, OZ, Turbo, and Taurus. The opening and title track of the EP was released as the lead single alongside its official music video on April 30, 2021.

Original Score

1. Titles

2. Train Tunnel

3. Reprimands

4. Pilates

5. Boz Body

6. Horrorshow

7. It's Boz

8. Boz Wife

9. Cameras Work

10. Grab Fitch

11. Pops Food

12. Deliver Stick

13. Pig Truck

14. Tide Rising

15. Money Bucket

16. Waste Time

17. Puppet Box

18. Wax Angie

19. No Glitch

20. Pops Explores

21. You OK?

22. OK, You

23. Glass Thrower

24. Gotta Be Kidding

25. Be Partners

26. Zepp Nine

Additional Tracks

1. Spiral – 21 Savage

2. You Ain't Hard – Young Nudy

3. Down Bad – Real Recognize Rio & Various Artists

4. Emergency – 21 Savage

Trivia

  • Spiral was the first Saw film not to be released in October.
  • The franchise's mascot, Billy the Puppet, makes no appearance in the movie for the first time in the series.
  • Spiral is the first film not to have Tobin Bell reprise his role as John Kramer. He does, however, appear in a photograph at the police station.
  • Leading up to the movie's release, Little Dot Studios Productions and Lionsgate collaborated on Seeing Saw: The Official Spiral Podcast, where they discussed the earlier films in the franchise.
    • The three members of this podcast were critics Catherine Bray, Anna Bogutskaya, and Charlie Shackleton.
    • Leigh Whannell, Darren Lynn Bousman, Mark Burg, and Oren Koules joined the podcast.

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