ESP’s film critic Gavin Miller was among the first to return to Peterborough’s Showcase Cinema De Lux to catch up on his big screen entertainment. There are plenty of new releases to enjoy for both families and adults, but here’s one that’s definitely for the grown ups…

This semi-reboot of the Saw franchise just about delivers on the back of Chris Rock’s enthusiasm.

Spiral is a kind of spin-off set in the world of Jigsaw – and better than the last film in the series of the same name – but it’s only by reference.

The only problem is, it initially steers the horror into a new crime thriller type direction, before falling back into the sloppy Saw tropes that plagued the many sequels – like outdated fast-forward editing and terrible back story cut scenes.

For the most part Chris Rock’s Detective Ezekiel ‘Zeke’ Banks makes for an entertaining central character – as one of the very few ‘good’ cops in a very ‘dirty’ police department. In fact Zeke is pretty much a loner after shopping an old colleague many years ago.

But when his detective pal Marv Bostwick is ‘offed’ at the opening of the movie – in a Jigsaw-esque fashion – Zeke is tasked with leading the case by his boss Captain Angie Garza (Marisol Nichols), much to the dismay of his colleagues still bearing a grudge.

He’s even given a rookie cop in the process – Max Minghella’s William Shenk – in an attempt to stop him being a lone wolf, after living his life in the shadow of his decorated former police head-honcho father Marcus Banks (Samuel L Jackson, who is only there to give the film added ‘name’ value, nothing more).

What ensues is the usual grotesque gore-ified Jigsaw Killer-type slayings – and they do come up with some new and inventive death contraptions – even if that is now getting a tad stale despite their best efforts.

But with Rock shining in his pet project – he’s a fan of the series and also executive produces – that does enough to leave this as what would be deemed a ‘middling’ entry in the franchise.

And to be fair with cinemas just re-opening after the pandemic, it feels like we’ve come full circle. So on the back of that Spiral delivers some welcome ‘blood and guts’ familiarity that should satisfy fans clamouring for a bit of normality once again.

ESP Rating: 3/5

Gavin Miller

Showcase Cinema De Lux Peterborough

Cast: Chris Rock, Max Minghella, Marisol Nichols, Richard Zeppieri, Dan Petronijevic, Zoie Palmer & Samuel L Jackson

Running Time: 1 Hr 33 Mins

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

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