Film Review: “Spiral, from the Book of Saw”
Written by: Victoria Alexander | May 18th, 2021
Chris Rock has reached the apex of Hollywood stardom. He has a sure hit franchise. In a wacky Good Samaritan way, all the victims are guilty of crimes they were never punished for. It’s a fait accompli.
Street justice was never so grizzly. Oh, unless you live in the western state of Michoacan, in the city of Uruapan, Mexico.
Chris Rock made Lionsgate a pitch they couldn’t refuse. Worldwide, the SAW franchise of eight films made nearly $1 billion. Without my knowing the terms of Rock’s contract, Lionsgate pushed ahead the release date for Spiral, number 9, from November to May. SAW X is already rumored.
As we all know, Jigsaw was John Kramer and portrayed by Tobin Bell in all the eight SAW movies. Jigsaw became an incredibly wealthy man with a lot of free time on his hands as the franchise evolved.
The first SAW began with two men waking up in a bare warehouse bathroom. One man has his ankle chained to a pipe. Across the room is another man. A corpse between them is holding a gun and a recorder. Both men find a tape in their pockets. One man’s tape tells him to escape, while the other man’s tape tells him to kill the stranger by six o’clock or his wife and daughter will be killed. There is a bag containing two hacksaws inside the toilet which they can use to cut through their chains. One guy’s hacksaw breaks. That’s the conundrum. Jigsaw explains he is testing their will of survival through murderous contraptions he calls “games”. They must be clever and resourceful to escape.
Over the progress of the films, Jigsaw’s contraptions became highly sophisticated, complex and mechanical masterpieces. If Leonardo da Vinci was a serial killer, he would have designed these torture apparatuses. Maybe…
We need to look no further than history. The Nazi death camps will live on in history, but what about the Japanese in World War ll or Stalin’s bloodthirsty regime with estimates from 6 to 20 million deaths?
Though one of SPIRAL’s devices is reminiscent of a torture given the name “Judas Cradle”. A waist harness, attached to ropes, was placed around the victim and then slowly lowered him/her onto the pyramid shaped seat with the pointy top inserted into their anus or vagina.
All the sexual imagery so prominent in the history of torture plays no part in Jigsaw’s devices. This is all about technological sadism, not sexual depravity.
We were introduced to the method of Blood Eagle torture in Vikings, Season 2, Episode 7 when my personal favorite Viking, Ragnar, performs the torture on his enemy Jarl Borg before his tribe.
Jigsaw’s victims all escaped justice for their crimes. We don’t know how many victims in the past history of torture were guilty of the crimes they were accused of, such as wishing a neighbor’s cow dies. A cow was a treasure and a highly valuable commodity – like Jeff Bezo’s half-a-billion dollar yacht (with an accompanying smaller yacht for the staff).
I prefer to call SPIRAL’s copycat killer, “Neo-Jigsaw”. However, Neo-Jigsaw does not engage in history’s cleverly designed, efficient instruments. The Pear of Anguish was a metal instrument that was inserted in a victim’s mouth, anus or vagina, causing immense pain. Often, spikes at the end of these hand-operated machines tore apart orifices.
In 16th century Bavaria, the Breast Ripper was a popular torture used on women. Breast rippers were usually made of iron and they were heated to savagely remove the victim’s breasts.
Antiqueweaponstore.com offered a Breast Ripper that sold for $695 and then was listed as “out of stock.”
Far more shocking historical reference was the many well-documented reports of Japanese horrific cruelty during World War II. There are terrifying photographs of these shocking, widespread abuses by Japanese soldiers and scientists. Well-fed Japanese soldiers selected prisoners at work camps to eat. In some cases, soldiers cut flesh from still-living prisoners.
Zeke Banks (Chris Rock) is a homicide detective with a troubling history. He is the only honest cop in a department that was once run by his hallowed father, Marcus Banks (Samual L. Jackson). Zeke is bitter, resentful, and shunned by his department’s horde of seasoned detectives. He also has a jaded view of life, marriage and FORREST GUMP.
When Zeke’s partner is murdered in a horrific setting in a scenario that recalls the famed Jigsaw Killer, Zeke demands he handle the investigation. He has no support from the other detectives since he “ratted” on a fellow officer when he was a rookie. No one on the department has forgotten he broke the Blue Code of not informing on the crimes of fellow policemen.
Zeke is assigned a new partner, William Schnek (Max Minghella). He is not fresh from traffic duty. He is a detective that Zeke views as a rookie on his first job.
Infamous Unit 731 was where Japanese scientists conducted abhorrent acts on mainly Chinese POWs. It was common practice to remove subjects’ organs or to cut off their limbs without anesthetics. Some had samples of their brains and livers removed while they were still alive. One ghastly act was the removal of a prisoner’s stomach and then attached to their esophagus and small intestine. Others had their limbs removed and then reattached elsewhere on their body as a pointless, cruel “experiment.”
I know, you thought the 2009 Dutch movie, THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE, was a sick, purely deranged concept. https://www.ranker.com/list/japanese-torture-wwii/peterdugre
We do not know who is behind the Jigsaw puppet. The victims are summarily killed without given the chance to escape. Your tongue or your life? Like the iconic George Burn’s gag, he thinks it over. At least SAW 1 gave the victims a hopeful but slim chance.
Frankly, without siding with the guilty victims as they try to save their lives, the focus is on Zeke. And what kind of madman has the means to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment and warehouses all over the city? Heck, where is good police work checking out who could construct such elaborate setups? There are enough twists and the sincere work of Rock to keep this B-horror movie – and this is NOT a criticism but a quick definition of the genre – to rate a trilogy. But let’s give the guilty victims a chance.
I do not like dumb victims. Why would the woman in A QUIET PLACE get pregnant? Childbirth is painful and babies cry a lot.
Showing just how guilty the victims are beforehand leaves us not involved in watching them only scream to get free. No one can survive because Saw equipment is all gears, body piercing with wires and bondage masks.
The ending is perfect.