Chris Rock Heads SAW Spin-off, SPIRAL

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Spiral DVD

Darren Lynn Bousman's torture machine continues to crank out product, this time branching out of the SAW franchise into an inspired copycat storyline: SPIRAL. And with this iteration, Bousman brings in some of Hollywood's big guns to lend their faces to the project.

Detective Zeke Banks (Chris Rock) is a pariah on the force, seen as disloyal to the blue because he turned on a dirty cop and had him put away, when his father, Marcus Banks (Samuel L. Jackson)  was in charge of the precinct. It's made him angry, and it's made him take risks, something which is difficult for his new partner, Detective William Schenk (Max Minghella), to accept.

Zeke's past comes catching up with him in a hard way, however, when cops start turning up dead, victims of elaborate torture traps evocative of those used by the notorious killer, Jigsaw. That the killer leaves behind the inimitable spiral logo confirms that the police are up against a copycat of sorts -- one with an agenda: punish dirty cops.

SPIRAL continues to capitalize on the trope that the trapped person can always free themselves if they make a painful and permanent sacrifice. And, in true SAW fashion, even when they try to play the game, they end up losing. What SPIRAL has going for it is a true twist revelation, and a final confrontation that is unique among previous Jigsaw machines. Of course, things start to fall apart under too-close scrutiny, when one stops to wonder how a person afforded the materials for all these traps, let alone was able to install them in the places they did without anyone noticing. But that's not what these films are about. Heck, story isn't even what these films are about. It's about scenes of gory special effects, where each one has to top the next one either in its realistic gruesomeness or its jaw-dropping cleverness.

This DVD comes with two audio commentary tracks -- one with Bousman, joined by co-screenwriter Josh Stolberg and composer Charlie Clouser, the other with producers Oren Koules and Mark Burg. There's also a featuring taking viewers behind the making of the film, an illustrated walkthrough of how the traps worked (because you know somebody is just itching to build one if they only knew how), and a bit about the change of marketing strategy from the SAW paradigm to the SPIRAL one.

SPIRAL is cop drama meets... well, the genre that is uniquely the SAW franchise. If you enjoy both of those, you'll want to be here for SPIRAL.

3.5 / 5.0