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"Would you like to play a game?" For horror fans, those words instantly conjure up the image of Jigsaw, the puzzle-obsessed madman at the heart of the SAW franchise. He was last seen in 2017’s JIGSAW, a movie that was meant as a soft reboot of the infamous horror franchise.
Now, SPIRAL picks up the series' spiky baton. This new movie is a very different kind of SAW sequel. In fact, this one doesn't seem so much like a regular old franchise installment as an adrenaline-fueled reimagining that aggressively breaks from the tradition of the series so far. And as far as we’re concerned, SPIRAL, coming out next summer, is exciting because it’s such a radical departure.
Yes, you read that right: Chris Rock, one of the greatest comedians of our generation and a frequent collaborator with Adam Sandler, came up with the idea for SPIRAL. Plot details are still being kept under wraps, even with the first trailer out in the wild, but Rock's story idea was enough to cause Lionsgate to resurrect the mothballed franchise.
And whatever Rock’s idea was, it was also good enough to get Samuel L. Jackson invested; he stars in the film alongside Rock. It's kind of wild to see a SAW movie with actual movie stars. These movies have had great actors before — the first SAW kicked things off with co-stars Carly Elwes and Danny Glover — but the series hasn't lured anyone as famous as Rock or Jackson in the past. Seeing a couple of terrific, highly bankable stars at the top of their powers in the lead roles is really something to get jazzed about.
Lionsgate is clearly hoping to keep details of SPIRAL somewhat secret for the time being — and wants to maintain a sense of mystery about the movie's connection to the SAW series in the process. The official synopsis says, "Working in the shadow of an esteemed police veteran (Samuel L. Jackson), brash Detective Ezekiel "Zeke" Banks (Chris Rock) and his rookie partner (Max Minghella) take charge of a grisly investigation into murders that are eerily reminiscent of the city's gruesome past. Unwittingly trapped in a deepening mystery, Zeke finds himself at the center of the killer's morbid game."
So this is definitely a sequel of sorts. Truth be told, the timeline of the SAW series uses a lot of flashbacks and is seriously complicated. It can be hard to follow. For example, JIGSAW — spoiler! — takes place in multiple time periods a decade apart, but that fact is not revealed until the end of the movie.
While based on Rock's idea, SPIRAL was written by Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger, who have had their hands in both horror and broad comedy. Sometimes they mix the two, as in the great, underrated PIRANHA 3D; they also wrote JIGSAW. While you might expect comedy, given Chris Rock's involvement, the trailer doesn't look like a comedy at all. We do wonder if John Kramer (Tobin Bell) aka Jigsaw will actually have anything to do with the story. Anything is possible!
Most big spooky movies come out closer to Halloween, but summer is a time when a great horror movie can clean up at the box office. Look no further than the two CONJURING movies, which are not only insanely scary but are also genuine summer blockbusters. Next year, SPIRAL will forgo the usual pre-Halloween slot that most of the SAW sequels have claimed as their own, and instead, land right at the beginning of the summertime movie arena.
We love the summer idea because, first, SAW Is no longer the perennial Halloween event it once was. It’s been three years since the last entry, after all. Furthermore, releasing SPIRAL in the summer means that, come Halloween, the movie might have fully sunk its teeth into horror culture, which means great costumes and one more good excuse for a SAW movie marathon.
All images courtesy of Lionsgate.
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