Spiral: From the Book of Saw – Film Review

Spiral: From the Book of Saw

As a big fan of the Saw franchise, I was excited for Spiral and intrigued to see what new direction this instalment was going to take it in – but I came away pretty disappointed.

The movie follows troubled detective Ezekiel ‘Zeke’ Banks (Chris Rock) – who is disliked by the rest of the force for ratting out a dirty cop years before – and his newly assigned partner William (Max Minghella) as they investigate the death of one of their own team. His gruesome death seems to be the work of a copycat Jigsaw killer who is targeting the (many) corrupt members of the police force and picking them off one by one.

The Saw franchise was done to death (pun intended) and rinsed for all it was worth between 2004 and 2010 – when one was released every year – and 2017’s Jigsaw was essentially more of the same and didn’t do enough to kickstart the series once again, so I can appreciate that Rock, director Darren Lynn Bousman et al wanted to try something a little bit different and give it a new lease of life, throwing in some light comedy and some social commentary in addition to the traps and gore. And I would have been cool with that if they had nailed the execution.

I had issues with the storyline throughout the film, particularly with pacing and the use of too many flashbacks, but I still enjoyed myself – until the last 10 minutes when I felt completely let down and disappointed. The reveal of the new killer is so underwhelming. I waited for there to be another big shocking twist on top, convinced that couldn’t be all, but it was and it was so anti-climactic. Boy oh boy did they fail to stick the landing. It just felt so rushed and underdeveloped and nowhere near as exciting as a killer reveal should be. How could they make it so dull?!

Diehard fans of the Saw franchise may come away disappointed about the lack of classic Saw content. There are still some gory scenes, no doubt about that, but the amount of screen time given to watching people trying to escape the traps is considerably less. There have been so many disgusting, brutal and wince-inducing traps over the years that it must be difficult to come up with ones that are new and up to the same standard of grossness and only one sequence in Spiral made me cover my eyes because it was so stomach-churning. The rest were pretty average and I’ve forgotten about them already. And this is a random niggle, but I really missed hearing John Kramer’s voice on the tapes and TV messages. The new voice sounded weird and I didn’t like it and it made me realise how important his voice had been in those scenes.

I have always felt the Saw franchise had lost sight of its roots in favour of the headline-grabbing torture porn when the original Saw didn’t have too much of that so I’m glad that Spiral has reined it in and brought back the original cat-and-mouse detective storyline, but I think it ended up going too much the other way and being too much of a police procedural. The elements were there to make it a great film but the mystery just didn’t play out well enough, and I thought the commentary about the police and how they “shot first, ask questions later” was rather clumsy.

I wasn’t too sure about Rock leading a Saw movie when the film first began but my concerns dropped away about a third of the way into it. I thought he did a great job. I wish we had spent more time exploring his fraught relationship with his father Marcus (Samuel L. Jackson) and Jackson is generally in this nowhere near enough. I thought Marisa Nichols (Hermione Lodge from Riverdale!) was well cast as Captain Angie Garza while Minghella didn’t do it for me. I’m not convinced he was the best person for the job.

All in all, there were many aspects I liked about Spiral and I enjoyed it for the most part, but it doesn’t do anywhere near enough to justify its existence, and it’s not the strongest launchpad for potential sequels.

In cinemas now

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The cinemas are back! Here’s what you can watch

Spiral: From the Book of Saw

Cinemas in England have been closed since December and I am SO excited for them to reopen tomorrow! I have missed them so much! To make up for lost time, I have got two films booked in on Monday and three overall this week.

Films don’t generally get released on Mondays, but to celebrate the return of cinemas, the following four movies were given the release date of Monday 17th May. Here’s all the info:

Spiral: From the Book of Saw

Get ready for more elaborately gruesome, wince-inducing traps – the Saw franchise is back! This ninth instalment stars Chris Rock and Max Minghella as two cops who investigate grisly murders which bear an uncanny resemblance to the work of the Jigsaw killer. This instalment is said to have more comedy moments and a social justice angle, in addition to the gore.

Those Who Wish Me Dead

Taylor Sheridan‘s new thriller has an amazing cast which includes Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Hoult, Jon Bernthal and Aidan Gillen. Jolie plays a smokejumper who goes on the run with a teenager murder witness in the Montana wilderness to escape a pair of assassins hired to silence him. This is my first screening tomorrow and I’m excited for it.

Peter Rabbit 2

More animated hijinks in this sequel to the 2018 family adventure. Domhnall Gleeson and Rose Byrne return as the live-action leads, who are now married and living happily with the animated Peter (voiced by James Corden) and his family. But Peter gets restless and bored with blissful garden life and causes chaos (as always) by going to the big city.

The Unholy

And for people who like their horrors more supernatural than gory, there’s The Unholy, starring The Walking Dead’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan. It follows a hearing-impaired girl who is visited by the Virgin Mary and can suddenly hear, speak and heal the sick. People flock to witness her miracles but terrifying events unfold. Sounds spooky!

Those are all the new releases but plenty of cinemas are showing some awards season films – the most popular listings are for Nomadland, Sound of Metal and Judas and the Black Messiah – new blockbusters like Mortal Kombat and Godzilla vs. Kong as well as old classics.

If you feel comfortable to do so, please go and support your local cinema when you can! I personally cannot wait to switch off my phone and devote my entire attention to a movie surrounded my like-minded film fans.

The Witches: Film Review

The Witches

Nicolas Roeg terrified a generation of children with his 1990 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic The Witches, starring Anjelica Huston as the Grand High Witch, and now Robert Zemeckis has attempted to put a fresh spin on it with this new remake.

For those unfamiliar with the plot, it goes a little something like this – a young orphaned boy (Jahzir Bruno) and his grandma (Octavia Spencer) check into a hotel in Alabama in the 1960s for a little break. Around the same time, witches arrive at the hotel for a convention during which the Grand High Witch (Anne Hathaway) announces her plans to rid the world of children – she has developed a formula which can turn them into mice.

Roeg’s 1990 version of The Witches was grotesque, horrifying, and super scary for children who watched it back in the day. However, I was not one of those children. I watched for the first time last week in preparation for this release and I’m confident it would have given me nightmares as a child, as the Grand High Witch’s prosthetic-heavy transformation was still pretty gross, even to me, as an adult watching today. But anyway, my point is that I can be more unbiased as I have no emotional connection or feelings of nostalgia towards it and believe it’s quite a flawed film.

Zemeckis has clearly tried to make his remake less horrifyingly scary, which means that it loses the edginess which made the original so popular. And that would have been fine if it was able to conjure up the magic elsewhere but it just falls quite flat and it feels like something is missing. Although some scary moments have been dropped and the prosthetics have replaced by CGI, The Witches will still terrify children, particularly with Hathaway’s wide-grinned, sharp-toothed transformation and steely, creepy glare. Be warned parents: the Grand High Witch may still give your kids nightmares, but it’s not scary enough to affect adults.

Hathaway deserves a lot of praise for her performance. It’s a tough job following in Huston’s footsteps but she steps up to the challenge. She really throws her all into the role and is incredibly creepy, although it’s a shame the scariest parts of her transformation are realised through CGI. It just meant her big moment – the convention’s opening speech – is nowhere near as disturbing or affecting as Huston’s. Spencer also does well as the lovable grandma befriending CGI mice, while Stanley Tucci is wasted as the hotel manager. Chris Rock‘s narration didn’t completely work for me, but he brought great enthusiasm to the voice role and I liked how it made sense at the end.

The Witches remake may not capture the magic of the original, but it is sure to scare kids regardless. It’s rated PG but consider yourselves warned!

The Witches is available to rent from Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, Microsoft Store, Sky Store, and Google Play from Monday 26th October.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Can Taylor Swift please stop with the celebrity guests

tay1

Now, I love Taylor Swift but I’m so sick of her shows becoming like a parade of her celebrity pals. The whole purpose of a surprise guest is to, duh, surprise, but it’s got to the stage now where if she doesn’t bring on somebody epic it’s disappointing. Okay, so you never know who is going to be and some are generally pretty shocking (Julia Roberts anyone?) but still, I have had enough.

[Read more…]

Madonna vs Taylor Swift: Whose has the best star-studded video?

mad6

 

Madonna has dropped the music video to Bitch I’m Madonna and people are pegging it as a rival Taylor Swift‘s star-studded promo for Bad Blood but it doesn’t even come close, despite having way bigger names. For a start, Madonna’s came out exclusively on Tidal, which is a pain in the arse in itself and half of these celebs weren’t actually at the filming – they were just added afterwards!

[Read more…]

Top Five: Film Review

top1

Top Five is brilliant – so hilarious, meta, and well observed and proves just how talented Chris Rock is at writing comedy (he also directs here). He stars as comedy movie actor Andre Allen, who was best known for his stand-up work and “Hammy the Bear” cop franchise, but since getting clean and sober he is trying to forge a ‘serious’ acting career with little success.

[Read more…]

Top Films for May

 

may1

It’s a new month, which means a whole new set of films to be excited about. Here’s what I’m looking forward to watching:

[Read more…]