You dont have to know a thing about the horror movie Saw or its spawn before watching the latest movie in the franchise, Spiral: From the Book of Saw, opening in theaters on Friday.
But if youre curious to know more about what helped Saw slice through the competition and why Spiral, starring Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson, might be worth checking out, heres a primer.
James Wans low-budget indie horror oddity Saw landed on the film festival circuit in 2004, and became a sleeper hit thanks to a diabolical story and hair-raising performances by Cary Elwes (the swashbuckler Westley from The Princess Bride) and Leigh Whannell (who wrote the screenplay). The macabre story is about two men isolated in a grimy death trap of a room, where theyre forced by a madman, known as the Jigsaw Killer, to undergo brutal morality-testing games to escape alive. Danny Glover plays a detective obsessed with catching the killer.
Wan was a 27-year-old unknown when Saw came out; hes now a Hollywood bigwig known for directing blockbuster horror (The Conjuring), action (Furious 7) and superhero movies (Aquaman). Whannell, who starred in Wans original Saw short film, went on to write horror megahits, including Wans Insidious, and also to direct (his credits include last years The Invisible Man).
The original Saw cost just $1.2 million to make and grossed more than $103 million globally. With eight films in the Saw franchise, most recently Jigsaw in 2017, the series is now one of the highest-grossing horror movie franchises and is credited with helping usher in the torture porn era of horror filmmaking.
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II, Saw III and Saw IV), Spiral starts a new chapter in the Saw universe, an extension that Lionsgate no doubt hopes will again result in box office gold.
Rock stars as Zeke Banks, a seen-it-all detective who reluctantly works with a rookie (Max Minghella) to investigate a series of murders of police officers that, by the look of the gruesome crime scenes, appear to be the work of the Jigsaw Killer. Samuel L. Jackson plays Zekes father, a police veteran, and Marisol Nichols plays the police chief.
Rock has said hes a fan of the Saw films, and he came up with the idea for this new iteration.
Mainstream horror still doesnt feature many Black leads, so Spiral is a welcome departure from the genres whiteness. It will also be interesting to see Rock tackle a dramatic role, as he recently did in the series Fargo.
The Jigsaw Killer, better known as just Jigsaw, is the bloodthirsty maniac who orchestrates sick little games for people he thinks dont deserve to live. He communicates via a dapper ventriloquists dummy with a white face, red beady eyes, a red lip and signature red swirls on his cheeks. The killer has a fascinating back story revealed in one of the original films biggest twists.
Jigsaw doesnt have the name recognition of villains like Jason or Freddy, but he has a devoted fan base. In Spiral, his catchphrase I want to play a game is delivered in a digitally distorted voice that sounds like what a perverse and unforgiving psycho would sound like. (It also, strangely, has the flat affect of the Midwest.)
Thats a tough question to answer. Horror fans love Saw, and might enjoy Spiral for its ingeniously cruel tests, gory outcomes and what would you do? scenarios. For gorehounds, the pleasure comes with each scene of graphic and fantastic carnage at the hands of contraptions that make an iron maiden look like a Sit n Spin.
If you can stomach watching people make terrifying decisions that result in a blood bath of severed limbs and dramatic deaths, these films are for you. If not, steer clear.
The original. (Stream it on HBO Max or rent it on Amazon Prime.) The first Saw succeeds because its most grueling scenes take place in one room, giving it the feel of a very intimate, if bloodcurdling, play. It values storytelling over butchery (of which theres still plenty), and does so with elements of raw exploitation but also Grand Guignol chamber drama. For some critics it was too real; Stephen Holden, in his review for The New York Times, said parts of Saw bore an uncomfortable resemblance to the horrors of Abu Ghraib.
The Saw sequel and the latter films have their merits, especially in some of the more spectacularly devised deaths. But they are too often overwhelmed by plot twists, overlapping story lines and contradictory timelines.
- How to Watch a Horror Movie: 13 Steps (with Pictures ... - July 26th, 2021
- Five Horror Movies to Stream Now - The New York Times - July 26th, 2021
- Box Office: Old Proves That M. Night Shyamalan Remains A Bankable Horror Director - Forbes - July 26th, 2021
- Netflixs new nerve-shredding horror movie has viewers jumping out of their seats - BGR - July 26th, 2021
- Netflix's New Horror Movie Has Users On The Edge Of Their Seats - We Got This Covered - July 26th, 2021
- The Action Horror Movie That Has Netflix Subscribers Gripping Their Seats - Looper - July 26th, 2021
- 40 Best Horror Movies On Hulu [July 2021] - Looper - July 26th, 2021
- Hybrid horror-LGBTQ film shot in Danbury accepted to 20 festivals - Danbury News Times - July 26th, 2021
- 13 Psychological Horror Movies That Will Destroy Your Brain For All The Wrong Reasons - GameSpot - July 26th, 2021
- 'Director's Cut' Ends the Season with Horror Film 'The Field' July 23 - PBS Wisconsin - July 26th, 2021
- How the horror genre is dying in India sans innovation and imagination - The Indian Express - July 26th, 2021
- 1960s to today: Popular movies filmed in the Las Cruces area - Las Cruces Sun-News - July 26th, 2021
- Streaming Horror Movies About the Elderly /Film - /FILM - /FILM - July 26th, 2021
- 5 Thai Horror Films on Netflix That Will Absolutely Terrify You - Tatler Singapore - July 11th, 2021
- The Vigil movie review: Amazon scores one of the most underrated horror films in years, sleepless nights await - Hindustan Times - July 11th, 2021
- The Schlock-Horror Drive-In That Rose From the Grave - The New York Times - July 11th, 2021
- Son review creepy slice of southern gothic that is the mother of all horror movies - The Guardian - July 11th, 2021
- Film 'The Medium' director says film is 'new type of horror' - The Korea Herald - July 11th, 2021
- Michelle Williams to Play King Henry VIIIs Last Wife in Horror Film Firebrand - Hollywood Reporter - July 11th, 2021
- 'The Swarm' Trailer: It's Invasion of the Killer Locusts in Netflix's New Horror Movie - /FILM - July 11th, 2021
- The Haunted House Restaurant nears opening sneak peek (photos) - cleveland.com - July 11th, 2021
- Animated Horror Movie 'The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf' Coming to Netflix in August [Trailer] - Bloody Disgusting - July 11th, 2021
- 10 Horror Movie Twists That Changed EVERYTHING - WhatCulture - July 11th, 2021
- The Best Horror Movies of 2021 So Far, According to Critics - Best Life - June 14th, 2021
- Sanford native brings horror movie production to hometown - WNEM Saginaw - June 14th, 2021
- Four horror movies based on real stories - Deccan Herald - June 14th, 2021
- Sanford native to produce, act in horror movie in hometown - Midland Daily News - June 14th, 2021
- The Night House: Horror film that breaks the rules of jump scares gets release date - The Independent - June 14th, 2021
- The Witchers Freya Allan To Star In Horror Thriller Baghead - Deadline - June 14th, 2021
- [Herald Interview] Director of animated horror film Climbing hopes to share plight of pregnant women - The Korea Herald - June 14th, 2021
- Reviving a 24,000-Year-Old Animal Is Exactly How a Horror Movie Would Start - The Mary Sue - June 14th, 2021
- Blood Red Sky Netflix Horror Movie: What We Know So Far - What's on Netflix - June 14th, 2021
- From 'Werewolves Within' to 'False Positive,' your guide to the sci-fi & horror films at Tribeca Film Festival 2021 - SYFY WIRE - June 14th, 2021
- Five Horror Movies to Watch After 'The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It' - /FILM - June 14th, 2021
- Edmonton weather: Foggy mornings remind me of eerie horror movies and I love it! - Edmonton Journal - June 14th, 2021
- 13 Movie and TV Adaptations of Horror Books and Where to Stream Them - Book Riot - May 21st, 2021
- Creepy New Horror Movie Is Terrifying Amazon Prime Users - We Got This Covered - May 21st, 2021
- Charlie Clouser on scoring horror films, the early days of industrial rock, and his love of the unusual - MusicTech - May 21st, 2021
- Stay Home, Watch Horror: Five 2021 Horror Movies You Can Stream This Week That You Might've Missed - Bloody Disgusting - May 21st, 2021
- Tony-winning actress to debut horror film at Hamilton festival - TheSpec.com - May 21st, 2021
- 50 Horror Movies With the Worst Ratings on Rotten Tomatoes - Newsweek - May 21st, 2021
- Seance movie review a smart and twisty horror movie - Assignment X - May 21st, 2021
- As Movie Theaters Reopen, a Sense of Relief - Hollywood Reporter - May 21st, 2021
- Game Of Thrones Alum Nathalie Emmanuel And Garrett Hedlund To Star In Screen Gems Horror Pic The Bride - Deadline - May 21st, 2021
- Review: Same-sex slasher The Retreat is a horror film several cuts above - The Globe and Mail - May 21st, 2021
- Initiation review campus horror is more bore than gore - The Guardian - May 21st, 2021
- Tony Todd and Tobin Bell Face an Alien Invasion in Sci-fi/Horror Movie 'The Bunker' - Bloody Disgusting - May 21st, 2021
- Fantasia 2021: Check Out Images From All the Horror Films Playing This Year's Virtual Fest - Bloody Disgusting - May 21st, 2021
- 'Chain Saw Confidential' Movie Will Be a Dark Comedy About the Making of 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre' - /FILM - May 21st, 2021
- 'Army of the Dead' and more of the all-time greatest zombie movies - Wonderwall - May 21st, 2021
- The 30 Best Horror Movies on Netflix, According to Critics - Newsweek - May 8th, 2021
- Best Shudder movies: the essential horror films to watch on the streamer - Gamesradar - May 8th, 2021
- Review: 'Initiation' into this horror movie isn't worth the effort - The Detroit News - May 8th, 2021
- Over 20 New Horror Movies and Shows Releasing in May 2021! - Bloody Disgusting - May 8th, 2021
- Pastor and Wife's Eyes Gouged, Ears Bitten in 'Out of Horror Movie' Attack - Newsweek - May 8th, 2021
- The 17 Best Horror Movies To Watch On Hulu Right Now (May 2021) - GameSpot - May 8th, 2021
- Ben Wheatleys In The Earth finds horror in fungi - The Verge - May 8th, 2021
- You'll Die Laughing at the Hilarious New Trailer For UNTITLED HORROR MOVIE - Available on iTunes and Amazon June 15th - We Are Movie Geeks - May 8th, 2021
- Exclusive: DC's 'The Conjuring' comic writers on what it takes to bring the horror world from screen to page - SYFY WIRE - May 8th, 2021
- The Horror Movie You Didn't Know Was Based On A Greek Tragedy - Looper - May 8th, 2021
- Stay Home, Watch Horror: 5 Heavy Metal Horror Movies to Stream This Week! - Bloody Disgusting - May 8th, 2021
- Netflixs Horror Movie Things Heard And Seen Is Dividing The Internet - ScreenGeek - May 8th, 2021
- The Tom Cruise Lovecraftian Horror Movie We Never Got To See - Looper - May 8th, 2021
- A Filipino cinematographer is behind the powerful images in this thrilling and timely American horror - ANCX - May 8th, 2021
- WARMINGTON: In this real-life horror movie, there's no sports or fun legally allowed - Toronto Sun - May 8th, 2021
- The Movie Like The Invitation That Horror Fans Need To Watch - Looper - May 8th, 2021
- 10 Most Terrifying Vacation Horror Movies - WhatCulture - May 8th, 2021
- 9 Eco-Horror Movies That Will Remind You to Be Nicer to the Earth - Vulture - April 23rd, 2021
- The Best Horror Movies of 2021 (So Far) - Thrillist - April 23rd, 2021
- Take a hike into terror with the Pittsburgh-shot horror film The Boonies - PGH City Paper - April 23rd, 2021
- 'In the Earth' Is the First Must-See COVID Horror Movie - The Daily Beast - April 23rd, 2021
- The Father is the Greatest Horror Movie that I've Ever Seen - Prescott eNews - April 23rd, 2021
- Movie review: Pandemic adds extra layer of threat to folk horror film 'In the Earth' - theday.com - April 23rd, 2021
- The Cher Post-Apocalyptic Horror Movie We Never Got To See - Looper - April 23rd, 2021
- Scream 3 is a brilliant horror movie that warned us about Harvey Weinstein - Polygon - April 23rd, 2021
- Netflix Producing Horror Movie The Last Will and Testament of Charles Abernathy - What's on Netflix - April 23rd, 2021
- There Are 12 Near-Perfect Horror Movies According To Metacritic - Looper - April 23rd, 2021
- Mortal Kombat Reboot Writer Wants To Make A Scary BioShock Horror Movie - We Got This Covered - April 23rd, 2021
- Fear of Rain review lurid horror film takes aim at mental illness stereotypes - The Guardian - April 23rd, 2021
- Movie Review: The Unholy | Lewiston Sun Journal - Lewiston Sun Journal - April 23rd, 2021
Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero