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Review Spiral: From the Book of Saw (2021): I wasn't as disappointed as I thought I was going to be.

genre: horror, thriller, crime

So Chris Rock decided to do a Saw movie. His reason was to do something different than he usually does. And it does seem like the next logical step into improving his craft as an actor. Except for one big problem. Chris Rock is a very limited actor. 

I must admit that when Spiral starts and he enters the scene I did end up laughing because of his jokes which helped me getting into the film. At first I was afraid the jokes were going to be distracting. But honestly I think somehow it kept things balanced between the thriller and horror bits. His serious moments in the beginning are decent enough but gradually get worse and worse. He keeps yelling and looking funny as if he is parodying a character from a Saw film. He totally fails to bring that levity and depth that is needed to make you believe the events. Because let's face it. Most of these murders are highly unlikely. I mean if you think about the one in the opening scene. It just can't happen. Especially if it is revealed that the killer apparently was there after to pick up a certain body part with police and paramedics present. And what about the trap that was set up? How could you set up a trap that elaborate without anyone noticing? Especially if trains are running through that tunnel day and night? And what about the camera's that are present? Sure the whole Saw franchise was filled with these impossible traps but as gruesome and improbable as they were it was the dynamics between The Jigsaw Killer and his victims that sold you the events. To see the fear and dread in their eyes. And to witness the despair of their predicaments is what made things seem real and unnerving. In large part this was because the actors managed to depict this fear. Chris Rock for whatever reason can't do this. Speaking of the traps. They are unimaginative and bland. Real shame!

One would think that Samuel L. Jackson could provide the depth and weight Chris Rock failed to bring but unfortunately his role is nothing more than a glorified cameo. It also looked like he didn't really care for the project. Like he was there to film the scenes in between projects he did care for. Apart from one story element I don't really see the need for him to be there. As for the rest of the cast. They are pretty serviceable I guess but none of them are heavyweights. 

This wouldn't be an issue if it weren't for the other big problem this film suffers from. The murder mystery itself. It's totally predictable. At least for me. I could deduce from the voice (even when it's modulated) who it was right from the beginning. Not that hard if there aren't that many red herrings to begin with. I had hoped that they would at least play around with expectations and do something new or twisty. I mean are we dealing with a copycat killer or a succesor to Jigsaw? It could have added some gravity to events. As is now the reveal seemed like what you would see in a regular episode of Criminal Minds only far less spectacular.  

That being said. I wasn't as disappointed as I thought I was going to be. I expected failure but for the most part I found myself enjoying it even if I do think they could have stepped up a few notches to make events more thrilling and unnerving. Can I recommend this? No. But if you happen to catch it I won't feel like a total waste of time.

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