Rated: R
Release Date: 05/14/2021
Production Company: Lionsgate Films

Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, Max Minghella and Marisol Nichols.

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman. Producers: Mark Burg, Kentura Kestin and Oren Koules. Executive Producers: Chris Rock, James Wan, Jason Constantine, Kevin Greutert, Daniel J. Heffner, Stacey Testro, Leigh Whannell. Screenwriters: Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger. Cinematographer:Jordan Oram.
By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

Samuel L. Jackson and Chris Rock bring a much welcome freshness to “Spiral: From the Book of Saw,” the ninth installment in the gory, hardcore “Saw” film series.

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (“Saw II, III and IV”), “Spiral” improves on the franchise by adding a contemporary storyline to complement all the blood-splattering that fans so love.

Rock stars as Det. Zeke Banks, a hot-headed cop who plays by his own rules. He is brash and cocky. He’s also incredibly good at what he does. Still, he doesn’t get along with many of his fellow officers or his by-the-book boss, Captain Garza (Marisol Nichols, TV’s “Riverdale”). Zeke is perfectly OK with that too.

Zeke’s father Marcus (Samuel Jackson “The Hitman’s Wife Bodyguard”) is a well-respected former, police chief of the precinct who has had to rescue his son from some scrapes within the department.

Zeke isn’t happy that he’s being paired with a rookie cop named William (Max Minghella, TV’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”). The last thing Zeke needs is to teach someone what to do every step of the way especially since cops are being targeted and killed by a “Jigsaw” copycat. The killer is relishing that none of them have a clue how to catch him.

Everyone in the police station starts to freak out when Zeke keeps getting these odd boxes from the killer with cryptic messages inside them.

Who is this guy and what does he want? Clearly, it’s someone out for revenge on cops, but why? More importantly, how is this guy getting so close to all the officers and brutally torturing them to death? Is it an inside job?

I won’t dare spoil that surprise, but it becomes a race against the clock, because all signs point to Zeke and his father as the next possible targets.

As crazy as it sounds, one of the best things about the “Saw” movies are the gruesome and tortuous traps. Well, these in “Spiral” made me squirm as much as any I’ve seen in the franchise. I couldn’t look away especially with the ones involving a tongue and some hot wax. You’ll see what I mean.

While Samuel L. Jackson gets to just be Samuel L. Jackson in “Spiral,” Chris Rock really digs in deep for the role. Apparently, Rock is a huge fan of the “Saw” franchise and he supposedly met with the vice chairman of Lionsgate, Michael Burns and talked him up about doing something in a horror film, but with a comedic bent. Not only did Rock get the part in “Spiral” but also co-executive producer credit.

If “Spiral” is part of a new direction the “Saw” franchise is headed, then I’m all in because this installment from screenwriters Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger (“Jigsaw”) is a bloody good time.

Editor's Note: Be sure to catch my movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays at 6:20 p.m. on radio station KFBK 93.1 FM and 1530 AM.

Watch This Trailer For "SPIRAL"

Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The American Film Institute (AFI), and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.


Year Released: 2020
Running Time: 94
Production Company: Paramount
Director: Arthur A. Seidelman
Director of Photography: Hanania Baer
Screenwriter: Mark McClafferty, Clint Smith, Mark E. Corry, Lin Marlin and Sam Egan
Author: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

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University of San Francisco--Dons