Spiral – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Spiral – A Spin of Mystery: Playing a Familiar Game

Franchises build longevity with new beginnings.  With the length of time, a series can be recharged through a remake or reimage.  By taking on a new approach, there is the hope that it will spark a new story to tell.  In this review, I look at a film that reimagines a property through the mixing of genres.  With a different angle, this story provides promising motives with mixed results.  Even with a new lens of storytelling, Spiral is a failed attempt of sparking mystery in familiar games. 

When a serial killer begins using his own brand of justice, one officer must figure out the puzzle falling victim to this Jigsaw copycat.  This film attempts to reimage the Saw franchise through a mixture of different genres.  The foundation uses criminal drama and thriller concepts to spark a newness in a familiar: horrific killings by an unknown assailant.  We are introduced to the story through the main character, Zeke Banks (Chris Rock).  He is a detective with the Metropolitan Police Department who has an uneasy relationship with his division.  After a sleuth of conflicts, he is partnered with new detective William Schenk (Max Minghella), before being appointed lead on this investigation.  This buildup of conflict and new partner are the inciting incident to their arrival at the murder scene.  Once they identify the victim (key incident) this leads through a linearity directive that becomes a predictable narrative of criminal tropes.  You have a recycling of scenes of auspicious evidence findings, cheesy one-liners and foreshadowing elements to create an auspicious tone within a promising setup.  That attempt never moves beyond its simple narrative.  All the investigative scenes become a chain between the grisly murders, causing thrilling elements to cascade within the obvious.  The familiar wrecks the illusion of mystery, creating a lacking character buildup between the Banks and the serial killer.

As crime scenes begin to stack up, Detective Banks and Schenk slowly piece together the purpose of these murders.  Through some forced red herrings, the story turns through a revolving door of flashbacks and slight character development.  There is a harden theme that hangs over all these murders, creating some ideal presence for the serial killer.  What hinders these promising ideas is the lack of buildup towards the final revelations.  With a lackluster in the truth, this leads into a third act where choices are way too familiar to feel shocking.  As Banks is at a crossroads, it creates an infallible climax that leads to a forced attempt of a sequel.  Spiral attempts to spark something new in the Saw franchise, but it never attempts to build a story worth following.  If you are a fan of the franchise, it might be worth seeing.  Otherwise, this is nothing more than a rental.

Full Score – 2 out of 5 (Rental)

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