An attempt to revive the popular Saw franchise, Spiral (full title “Spiral: From the Book of Saw,” whatever that means) continues the legacy of creative torture-horror under the direction of Darren Lynn Bousman who long ago helmed Saws II-IV. The sadistic madman-with-an-axe-to-grind known as Jigsaw is long dead and now a new serial killer is on the loose, an apparent copycat except this time the murderer is specifically targeting dirty cops with his elaborate, painful deathtraps. Once again, the victims must make the brutal choice to do something horrible to themselves to escape or die in gruesome fashion.
The dialogue is inexcusably unoriginal, and, performed with an apparent misbelief by the actors that if they shout their lines they will somehow be elevated, sags under the weight of its clichés and clunky exposition. In the plus column, the tortures being proffered are twisted, graphic, and all but guaranteed to make audiences cringe. Isn’t that what we want from a Saw sequel?
A great many scenes are set at nighttime to conjure the requisite eeriness, and the level of shadow detail in these is outstanding. The movie was captured digitally and is presented here in crisp, native 4K resolution with HDR10 high dynamic range. Bright highlights abound throughout, and not merely on the business end of the detectives’ flashlights as they probe various crime scenes. HDR imparts real pop from beginning to end, although I did note some banding artifacts in streetlights. Colors are remarkably varied and rich and are a joy to behold.
The Dolby Atmos soundtrack imbues the more bustling scenes with lively activity and adds an unsettling sense of inescapability when a victim is immobilized and confronting his/her fate. Suspense is often heightened by composer and ex-Nine Inch Nails member Charlie Clouser’s score. There are jump scares, naturally, with ample bass kick. And when star Chris Rock goes off on one of his tirades, his voice resonates in 360-degree space.
Twin audio commentaries feature the director, co-writer, and composer on one track, and producers on the other. A surprisingly excellent hour-long “making of” feature is accompanied by a look at the latest installment’s ingenious traps and a study of the advertising for the entire series. A regular HD Blu-ray version of the movie is supplied along with a digital copy.
Ultra HD Blu-ray
Studio: Lionsgate, 2021
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
HDR Format: HDR10
Audio Format: Dolby Atmos with TrueHD 7.1 core
Length: 93 Mins.
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Starring: Chris Rock, Max Minghella, Samuel L. Jackson, Marisol Nichols, Dan Petronijevic, Richard Zeppieri