You don’t need to know about the horror movie Saw or how it was made before watching the latest in the franchise, Spiral: From the Book of Saw, which opens in theaters on Friday.
But if you’re curious to learn more about what “Saw” helped make its way through the competition and why “Spiral” starring Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson might be worth a look, here’s an introduction .
What is “saw” and why is it important?
James Wan’s low-budget indie horror curiosity “Saw” landed at the film festival in 2004 and was made thanks to a diabolical story and hair-raising appearances from Cary Elwes (the swashbuckler Westley of “The Princess Bride”) and Leigh Whannell (who wrote the screenplay Has). The macabre story is about two men isolated in a filthy death trap in a room where they are forced by a madman, the Jigsaw Killer, to undergo brutal moral tests in order to escape alive. Danny Glover plays a detective obsessed with catching the killer.
Wan was a 27-year-old stranger when “Saw” came out; He’s now a Hollywood bigwig known for making blockbuster horror (“The Conjuring”), action (“Furious 7”), and superhero films (“Aquaman”). Whannell, who starred in Wan’s original short film “Saw,” wrote and directed horror mega hits, including Wan’s “Insidious” (his credits include “The Invisible Man” from last year).
The original “saw” cost only $ 1.2 million and grossed more than $ 103 million worldwide. With eight films in the “Saw” franchise, most recently “Jigsaw” in 2017, the series is now one of the most successful horror film franchises and is set to usher in the era of “torture porn” in horror filmmaking.
What is “spiral” and why is it important?
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman (“Saw II,” “Saw III” and “Saw IV”), “Spiral” opens a new chapter in the “Saw” universe, an expansion that Lionsgate no doubt hopes will return will lead to cash gold.
Rock stars like Zeke Banks, a detective who reluctantly works with a newbie (Max Minghella) to investigate a series of murders of police officers who, based on the look of the gruesome crime scenes, appear to be the work of puzzle killers. Samuel L. Jackson plays Zeke’s father, a police veteran, and Marisol Nichols plays the police chief.
Rock said he was a fan of the “Saw” films and he came up with the idea for this new iteration.
Mainstream horror still doesn’t have many black leads, so “Spiral” is a welcome departure from the whites of the genre. It will also be interesting to see rock play a dramatic role, as it did on the “Fargo” series recently.
Tell me more about Jigsaw.
The Jigsaw Killer, better known as Jigsaw, is the bloodthirsty madman who stages sick little games for people he believes don’t deserve to live. He communicates through a neat ventriloquist dummy with a white face, red bulging eyes, a red lip, and distinctive red swirls on his cheeks. The killer has a fascinating backstory that was revealed in one of the greatest twists and turns in the original film.
Jigsaw doesn’t have the name recognition of bad guys like Jason or Freddy, but it has a dedicated following. In “Spiral” his catchphrase “I want to play a game” is reproduced in a digitally distorted voice that sounds like a perverted and unforgiving psycho would sound. (Oddly enough, it also has the Midwestern shallow effect.)
How creepy are “Saw” and “Spiral”?
That is a difficult question to answer. Horror fans love “Saw” and like “Spiral” for its brilliantly cruel tests, bloody results, and “What Would You Do?” Scenarios. For gorehounds, the pleasure of every scene of graphic and fantastic slaughter through inventions that make an iron girl look like a sit ‘n’ spin.
If you can stand watching people make terrible decisions that lead to severed limb bloodbaths and dramatic deaths, these films are for you. If not, avoid it.
If I just had to watch one “Saw” movie, which one should it be?
The original. (Stream it on HBO Max or rent it on Amazon Prime.) The first “saw” is successful because its most grueling scenes take place in a room and it feels like a very intimate, if bloody game. It appreciates storytelling opposite the butcher shop (which is still plentiful), with elements of raw exploitation, but also with the chamber drama of Grand Guignol. For some critics it was too real; Stephen Holden said in his review for the New York Times that parts of “Saw” had “an uncomfortable resemblance” to the horrors of Abu Ghraib.
The sequel to “Saw” and the latter films have their merits, especially with some of the more spectacular deaths. But too often they are overwhelmed by plot changes, overlapping storylines, and conflicting schedules.