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Darren Lynn Bousman
Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, Max Minghella
Writing Credits:
Josh Stolberg, Pete Goldfinger

A criminal mastermind unleashes a twisted form of justice.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Dolby Vision
English Dolby Atmos
English Descriptive Audio
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 93 min.
Price: $30.99
Release Date: 7/20/2021

• Audio Commentary with Director Darren Lynn Bousman, Co-Writer Josh Stolberg and Composer Charlie Clouser
• Audio Commentary with Producers Oren Koules and Mark Burg
• “The Consequences of Your Actions” Featurette
• “Drawing Inspiration” Featurette
• “Decoding the Marketing” Featurette
• Trailers
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Spiral: From the Book of Saw [4K UHD] (2021)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 20, 2021)

Because horror franchises never die, the Saw flicks continued past its so-called Final Chapter in 2010. Seven years later, Jigsaw continued the series’ themes, and in 2021, Spiral offered another extension.

Subtitled as From the Book of Saw, Spiral opens with the abduction of Detective Marv Boswick (Dan Petronijevic) by an unknown party. Because Boswick lied to send innocent people to jail, his kidnapper offers him a seemingly appropriate choice: he can either rip out his tongue and survive or get killed by an on-rushing subway train.

Boswick fails to follow this proposition in time so he ends up splattered all over the tunnel, a fact that brings Detective Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks (Chris Rock) onto the case. Viewed as a “rat” by his fellow officers because he turned in a crooked cop, Zeke lacks much popularity among his peers, and he prefers to work alone.

However, Chief Angie Garza (Marisol Nichols) orders Zeke to partner with young Detective William Schenk (Max Minghella). They investigate Boswick’s murder and find themselves with more assaults from the same perpetrator, a person who emulates the violent methods previously espoused by the psychotic “Jigsaw”.

Whereas in Jigsaw, the movie entertained the notion that its title character never died, that doesn’t occur in Spiral. This story clearly sticks with the concept that the police need to deal with a copycat, not the original perpetrator.

That comes as a relief. Of course, horror movies boast a long traditional of antagonists who miraculously return from the dead over and over, so the revival of Jigsaw wouldn’t be unprecedented.

It would seem eye-rolling and stale, though. As such, I feel happy Spiral avoids the cliché.

As far as I can tell, Spiral also enjoys no continuity connection with Jigsaw. I would’ve expected some link between the two, but I can’t find anything to join the pair other than the “Saw motif”.

Compared to Jigsaw, Spiral enjoys a distinct advantage in terms of cast. In addition to Rock and the others I mentioned, we find Samuel L. Jackson as Zeke’s father, so that makes this film more of an actor-based draw than Jigsaw’s little-known group of performers.

Rock becomes both a positive and a negative. On the plus side, he brings charisma to the part and adds a much needed sense of humor to some of the scenes.

However, Rock simply never developed into much of an actor. Too much of the time, his take on Zeke just feels like a dramatic variant on the “Chris Rock Stage Personality”.

Rock barks lines like part of his standup. In the broader picture, he brings more to help the film than hurt it, but his lack of real acting chops remains an issue.

Not that Spiral lacks for problems, as the movie seems predictable to an extreme. It doesn’t take much brainpower to figure out where various plot points will go, and the film makes the identity of the “fake Jigsaw” clear far too early.

Spiral also depicts the dumbest, sloppiest police department on the planet. They routinely slobber all over clues and never seem to think to check evidence for fingerprints or other forensic material.

Face it: Spiral wants to seem gritty but it lives in a police world only marginally more realistic than the cartoon cops from 1993’s Last Action Hero. Zeke and peers trade in clichés and never come across as even vaguely believable.

Is it a stretch that we get a female police chief? Not at all, but I can’t imagine too many females who reach that position are as “done up” as Chief Garza – and I doubt they wear nothing other than tight white tank tops all the time, too.

Admittedly, no one goes to a Saw movie for realism, but in the case of Spiral, the tail wags the dog too much of the time. The story seems to plot where it wants to end and then jiggers all the rest of the narrative to fit that conclusion.

And what a spectacularly unsatisfying conclusion we find! I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that Spiral ends with a cliffhanger so blatant I’m half-surprised the filmmakers didn’t add a Back to the Future Part II-style “To Be Continued”.

This seems awfully anti-climactic. I can live without a wholly concrete finale, but the utterly unresolved Spiral does nothing other than frustrate.

While clearly a flawed movie overall, I do admit Spiral manages to keep the viewer’s interest for its brief 93-minute running time. It adopts an awfully urgent tone from start to finish, and though that can grate on the audience, it means the movie sustains attention.

Still, I can’t find much to really praise here. Spiral offers basic entertainment for fans of “torture porn” and its overqualified cast gives it a boost, but the end result seems sloppy and problematic too much of the time.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus B+

Spiral: From the Book of Saw appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. The movie boasted a pleasing Dolby Vision image.

Overall sharpness worked well. Virtually no softness materialized in tihs accurate presentation.

I saw no shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also failed to become an issue.

In terms of palette, Spiral went with a highly stylized palette that mixed yellows, greens, reds, purples, blues and ambers. The disc reproduced these as intended, and the disc’s HDR added impact and range to the tones.

Blacks looked dark and deep, while shadows seemed smooth and concise. HDR made whites and contrast look broader and more impressive. I felt happy with this high-quality presentation.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the film’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack added involvement to the proceedings. The channels used music in an involving manner, and various effects also broadened the soundscape in a winning way.

While not a film packed with action, Spiral came to life enough to work the speakers well. Various horror elements related to the thrills moved around the room in a convincing pattern to contribute life to the tale.

Audio quality worked well. Speech seemed concise and distinctive, while effects appeared accurate and natural. Louder moments boasted fine punch.

Music was warm and full, with a good level of punch from percussive elements. All of this left us with a satisfactory “B+” soundtrack.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Both came with the same Atmos audio.

A native 4K production, the Dolby Vision image boasted improved accuracy, colors and blacks compared to the Blu-ray. The latter looked good, but it couldn’t compete with the 4K.

A few extras appear here, and we get two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from Director Darren Lynn Bousman, Co-Writer Josh Stolberg and Composer Charlie Clouser, all of whom sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of story/characters and connections to the rest of the Saw universe, sets and locations, cast and performances, editing, deleted scenes and fights with the MPAA, photography and visual design, music and audio, effects, and connected domains.

Expect a strong commentary here, one made more interesting by Bousman's increasing anger as the track progresses. He alludes to a fair amount of studio interference and frequently discusses changes made to the film that he didn't choose.

At the start, Bousman treats these issues with a wink, as though he doesn't really feel bothered by them but he'll facetiously play up his annoyance. He makes joking references to "Director's Cuts" so long that it will require dozens of discs.

However, as the movie goes along, he gets more and more aggravated and it becomes clear that he really does feel pretty cheesed off about all these changes. Even without Bousman's unusually honest attitude, this would be a highly informative track, but his gradual path toward full boil makes it more interesting.

For the second commentary, we hear from producers Oren Koules and Mark Burg. Both sit together for their own running, screen-specific look at story/characters, music, cast and performances, sets and locations, and related areas.

You win some, you lose some. The first commentary became a big win, whereas the second falls into "lose" territory.

Yeesh, what a dull chat! The producers tell us little of interest, as they mostly praise the movie's participants. Add to that lots of dead air and this becomes a commentary largely devoid of informational and/or entertainment value. Skip it and you'll miss nothing.

In addition to two trailers, video programs follow, and The Consequences of Your Actions offers a five-part documentary that spans a total of 59 minutes, five seconds. Across these clips, we hear from Bousman, Stolberg, Burg, Koules, Clouser, executive producers Daniel Jason Heffnerand Jason Constantine, co-writer Peter Goldfinger, co-producer Ketura Kestin, cinematographer Jordan Oram, editor Dev Singh, and actors Chris Rock, Max Minghella, and Marisol Nichols.

“Actions” covers the progression of the Saw franchise and what eventually led to Spiral, Rock’s involvement, cast and performances, Bousman’s approach to the material, story areas and changes made along the way, photography and visual design, the torture traps, editing, music, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the film’s release.

Overall, “Actions” offers a good look at the production, though it tends to lose some steam as it goes. The documentary starts well but seems a bit less informative along the way. Still, it provides a pretty informative take on the flick and definitely merits a look.

Drawing Inspiration lasts eight minutes, 45 seconds and delivers notes from Bousman as he provides a telestrator-abetted examination of two of the movie’s “traps”. We get a useful exploration of the sequence.

Finally, Decoding the Marketing runs six minutes, 12 seconds and provides statements from Constantine, Bousman, Burg, and Koules. They look at advertising across the Saw franchise and this becomes a solid little piece.

A second disc brings a Blu-ray copy of Spiral. It includes the same extras as the 4K.

An offshoot of the Saw franchise, Spiral comes with more star power than any of its predecessors. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make it a good film, as it manages moderate entertainment at best due to its many flaws. The 4K UHD boasts strong picture and audio as well as a mix of mostly appealing bonus materials. Maybe established Saw buffs will dig Spiral, but the film seems unlikely to attract new fans.

To rate this film visit the prior review of SPIRAL

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