Spiral (also known as Spiral: From the Book of Saw which is alternatively titled as Spiral: From the Legacy of Saw internationally) is an American horror film and the ninth installment in the Saw franchise. It was directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and co-written by Josh Stolberg, Pete Goldfinger, and Chris Rock. Filming for the movie began on July 8, 2019. Originally, it was scheduled for release on May 15, 2020, but pulled due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was scheduled to be released on May 21, 2021, but its release date was later pushed up to May 14, 2021, when it was then released.
Although originally thought to be a reboot, Rock has confirmed that it will share a continuity with the other movies. The film was originally going under the title The Organ Donor, but the title was later officially revealed as Spiral: From the Book of Saw.
Working in the shadow of his father, Detective Ezekiel "Zeke" Banks and his rookie partner take charge of an investigation into grisly murders that are eerily reminiscent of the city's gruesome past. Unwittingly entrapped in a deepening mystery, Zeke finds himself at the center of the killer's morbid game.
During a Fourth of July parade, off-duty detective Marv Bozwick chases a thief down a sewer drainage pipe. Attacked from behind by a figure wearing a pig mask, Bozwick wakes to find himself suspended by his tongue in an active subway tunnel and is given a choice via recorded message: tear out his tongue and live, or remain until the next train arrives, killing him. Unable to escape the trap, Bozwick is killed by a speeding subway train. The next day, police chief Angie Garza assigns Detective Ezekiel "Zeke" Banks a partner, idealistic rookie William Schenk. Banks and Schenk investigate Bozwick's death and Banks realizes this to be similar to the now deceased Jigsaw Killer.
Meanwhile, Detective Fitch – who had, several years prior, ignored a backup call, resulting in Banks being shot – is abducted and placed in a trap where he must rip his fingers off to avoid electrocution in a filling water basin; he fails to do so in time and dies. Some officers begin to suspect that Banks may be responsible, due to his history with Fitch. A box then arrives at the station, containing a pig puppet and a piece of Schenk's tattooed skin inside. A small vial inside the box directs the police to a butcher shop, which was previously a hobby shop that Banks and his father would go to. Upon arriving, the team discovers a tape recorder and a skinned corpse, identified as Schenk. Banks' father and former police chief Marcus Banks arrives at a warehouse, attempting to track down the killer, when he is abducted. Garza is then abducted, and placed in a trap in the precinct's cold storage where she has to sever her spinal cord on a blade to avoid having hot wax pour from a pipe onto her face; she manages to successfully sever her spine but dies of her injures, with her body found by a devastated Banks.
While chasing a lead, Banks is captured and wakes up at the warehouse, handcuffed to a pipe with a hacksaw nearby. He considers sawing off his arm, but is able to escape using a loose bobby pin. He then discovers Peter Dunleavy, his former partner who he reported for murder, chained in place. In front of him is a large machine which crushes glass bottles and hurls shrapnel at him at high speed; a tape recorder explains that Banks can choose to free him or leave him to die. Although Banks attempts to save him, he dies from blood loss.
Moving to another room, Banks then finds Schenk, who is revealed to have faked his death by using the skinned corpse of Benny Reitz, who lured Bozwick into the tunnels, and has been the copycat Jigsaw Killer all along. He explains that the person Pete murdered was Schenk's father, who was killed for being willing to testify against a dirty cop. He also reveals that Marcus was responsible for the policies that enabled such corruption to occur without consequence, which eventually resulted in his father's death. Hoping to recruit Ezekiel as a partner in punishing corrupt officers, Schenk presents Banks' final test. Marcus is being restrained in the air and slowly drained of blood, which will continue until Banks uses his father's gun's last bullet to either hit a target that will save Marcus but allowing Schenk to escape using an elevator, or to kill Schenk and let his father bleed to death. Ezekiel decides to shoot the target to save Marcus, causing his restraints to loosen and lowering him to the ground, and then begins to fight Schenk once he removes the IV drip. Shortly after, a SWAT team arrives and aimed their guns at Ezekiel due to his hostile actions against Schenk. Suddenly, Marcus restraints yank him upward again, thanks to the wire mechanism the SWAT team unknowingly severs when they cut the door open. A gun is revealed to be affixed to Marcus arm, and his arm is then pulled up by the restraints after several search lights behind him is turned on to cover Marcus harness and body. The SWAT teams, thinking that Marcus is attempting to fire at them, ended up shooting him to death, much to Ezekiel's terror. Ezekiel screams in anguish as he watches Schenk escapes while shushing him, as Ezekiel did to him when his father was killed years ago.
- Chris Rock as Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks
- Samuel L. Jackson as Marcus Banks
- Max Minghella as William Schenk
- Marisol Nichols as Angie Garza
- Frank Licari as Charlie Emmerson
- Leila Charles Leigh as Officer Mark
- Chad Camilleri as Benny Reitz
- Dan Petronijevic as Detective Marv “Boz” Bozwick
- Richard Zeppieri as Detective Fitch
- Patrick McManus as Peter “Pete” Dunleavy
- Edie Inksetter as Detective Deborah Kraus
- Thomas Mitchell as Detective Tim O'Brien
- Nazneen Contractor as Coroner Chada
- K.C. Collins as Detective Drury
- Trevor Gretzky as Officer Pat
- Christopher Ramsay as Crack Punk
- Genelle Williams as Lisa Banks
- Dylan Roberts as Sergeant Morgey
- Ali Johnson as Officer Jeannie Lewis
- Zoie Palmer as Kara Boswick
- Morgan David Jones as Officer Barrett
- Christopher Tai as Officer Johnson
- Nadine Roden as Officer Grant
- Carvin Winans as Officer Paul
- Sean Jones as Officer Livingston
- John Tokatlidis as Burns Cop
- Tim Ziegler as Cop #1
- C.J. Lusby as Cop #2
- Josh Stolberg as Cop #3
- Brian Cook as Lone Reporter
- Nneka Elliott as Reporter #1
- Val Cole as Reporter #2
- Peter Hoy as Pawn Shop Owner
- Howard Green as Gang Banger #1
- Donavan Boucher as Gang Banger #2
- Matthew Lee as Gang Banger #3
- Connor Smith as Junkie
- Joseph Pierre as Thug #1
- Subastan MacLean as Thug #2
- Alexander Troy as Thug #3
- Clinton Walker as Addict
- Jacob Bosse as Delivery Guy
- Gannon Racki as Man #1
- Luke Gallo as Man #2
- Isys Alex as Woman
- Calab Ellsworth-Clark as Bike Courier
- Rick Gacia as Homeless Guy
- Nick Alachiotos as Man in Alley
- Scotty Cook as M80 Boy
- Andrew Perun as Paramedic
- Bryan Thomas as Tweaker
- Miles Koules as Terroni the Delivery Man
- Jerry Getty as Conductor
- Brandon Zakkai as Gruff Neighbor
- Joseph Racki as Dark Figure
- Elena Khan as Homeless
- Jaclyn Vogl Hooker #1
- Heidi Matijevic as Hooker #2
- Boomer Mays as Firefighter
- Jonny Prince as SWAT Officer
The soundtrack was mainly composed by Charlie Clouser,
2. Train Tunnel
5. Boz Body
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
1. Spiral – 21 Savage
2. You Ain't Hard – Young Nudy
3. Down Bad – Real Recognize Rio & Various Artists
4. Emergency – 21 Savage
According to Chris Rock, the origins of Spiral came from a chance meeting with the vice chairman of Lionsgate, Mike Burns, at a friend's wedding in Brazil, and 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. Rock approached Lionsgate with his ideas of extending the franchise, who became very interested in the concept. 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". By January 2018, industry rumors had said that Lionsgate had begun discussions of a ninth Saw film, for which the Spierig Brothers would not be returning. The directors confirmed in an interview with Screen Rant that their film laid the ground work for future sequels. By April 2018, Twisted Pictures was developing a sequel with Jigsaw writers Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger. An early iteration of the script had Rock's character related to Danny Glover's David Tapp from the first film. Stolberg and Goldfinger opted not to go in this direction as it "didn't pass the smell test."
On May 16, 2019, the film was officially in pre-production. Former series director Darren Lynn Bousman returned to helm the film, along with series veterans Mark Burg and Oren Koules as producers. Rock was involved as an executive producer, in addition to writing the story treatment. The original Saw creators James Wan and Leigh Whannell, along with Daniel Heffner, joined Rock as executive producers. Stolberg and Goldfinger were confirmed as scriptwriters. 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 Saw series a "completely fresh perspective". Likewise, Bousman stated that in comparison to previous entries, Spiral included less violence and gore, expressing the conviction that the gore and violence were the gimmick for him back when he started working in the Saw films, but that both elements now serve the story, which focuses more on character, tension and fear. As the film's killer is a Jigsaw copycat who differentiates from the original, it was decided to replace Billy the Puppet with a new puppet, as Bousman felt that if the original Jigsaw is replaced, the original puppet should go and be replaced with a new one so the new killer can't be compared. Stolberg also confirmed that the ninth installment would exist in the same canon as the previous eight films, and would not be a reboot or a direct sequel to Jigsaw.
On July 8, 2019, principal photography commenced in Toronto, Ontario, under the working title of The Organ Donor, with cinematographer Jordan Oram. Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, Max Minghella, and Marisol Nichols were announced to be starring in the film. Lionsgate's CEO 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". According to Bousman, a scene featuring a trap had to be cut from the film due to it being "too gnarly". On August 28, 2019, filming officially wrapped up. During post-production, editing was completed by Dev Singh.
As of May 21, 2021, Spiral has grossed $11.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $3.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $14.6 million. The film has been met with mixed reviews from critics. It received a rating of 37% from Rotten Tomatoes, based on 183 reviews, while Metacritic gave it a score of 39 out of 100, based on 31 critics. While critics praised the acting and the franchise's new direction, they were divided on the execution of its storyline and pacing.
In April 2021, a sequel film, titled Saw X, was confirmed to be in development with Twisted Pictures. However, Bousman stated that it was a premature announcement that surprised him and the film's producers. He said, "Just because we made Spiral doesn't mean Saw ceases to exist. Just because Spiral is here, that doesn't mean there won't be a Saw IX. This is not the ninth film in the Saw franchise. There easily could be a Saw IX that follows Jigsaw. I think they're waiting to see how [Spiral] goes and how audiences respond to determine what happens next."
In an April 2021 interview with Deadline Hollywood, Lionsgate Television chairman Kevin Beggs announced that Lionsgate TV is in early talks to develop a television series based on Spiral, alongside Mark Burg and Oren Koules' Twisted Television productions.
- This was the first Saw film not to be released in October.
- This is the first Saw film where no characters survive their respective traps.
- Ezekiel Banks is the only character who survives their test.
- The "spirals" in the film allude to the red spiral markings on Billy the Puppet, which was often used by Jigsaw to interact with the victims trapped in his deadly games. Ironically, this is the first Saw film not to have Billy The Puppet as a character.
- This is the first film not to have Tobin Bell reprise his role as John Kramer, and the second time since Saw: Rebirth where he doesn't return as the character overall.
- Leading up to the movie's release, Little Dot Studios Productions and Lionsgate collaborated on the podcast, Seeing Saw: The Official Spiral Podcast, where they would be discussing the earlier movies in the franchise.
- The three members of this podcast were critics Catherine Bray, Anna Bogutskaya and Charlie Shackleton.
- Writer Leigh Whannell and directors Darren-Lynn Bousman, Mark Burg and Oren Koules joined the podcast for interviews.
- American/British rapper Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, professionally known under his stage name, 21 Savage, recorded "Spiral" for the movie's soundtrack. A music video for the song was released on May 1, 2021, containing additional unseen clips from the movie.