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Spiral: From The Book Of Saw (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Both the Saw franchise and Fast and Furious franchises landed on their ninth installments here in 2021, originally  meant for 2020 (Give or take Hobbes and Shaw. And I’ve seen where this new one being the ninth in the Saw storyline is debatable. Overcomplicated narratives is par for the course on screen and offscreen for these two sequel machines). Saw obviously darted out to a bigger lead with seven years of consecutive sequels before taking a hiatus until Jigsaw a few years ago. Spiral: From The Book of Saw grabbed attention when it brought Chris Rock on board not just to star but to produce and do the story. Toss in Samuel L. Jackson and you’ve instantly the highest profile Saw film to date. Spiral was my first film back to the theaters post-vaccination. Its arriving on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray on July 20th, where I imagine more people are going to discover this latest Saw film. You can pre-order it from the paid Amazon Associates link below for hopeful arrival when it releases.

Film

A criminal mastermind unleashes a twisted form of justice in Spiral, the terrifying new chapter from the book of Saw. Working in the shadow of his father, 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 entrapped in a deepening mystery, Zeke finds himself at the center of the killer’s morbid game.

Spiral plays a little more higher profile than previous effort Jigsaw, but at the end of the day the two aren’t too far apart in terms of their fit into the Saw universe. Many have been heralding this one as much better, but the two really have a lot in common and don’t really move the needle too strong for Saw to have a glorious return or big move for another generation and series of film. Spiral does embrace some of the series more silly tropes, but ignores the one with ridiculous continuity attention and wonderful retcons that make it a treat to watch through the first 7 films. It wants to stand by itself, just as Jigsaw did.

Chris Rock adds some new flavor into the Saw world with a more loose lead character that can spout out some nice one liners and deliver a chuckle or two in some scenes. However, he does seem to want to mug for the camera a lot for some reason that I can’t tell if its intentional self parody or just his body language not working out. Samuel L. Jackson gives you what you’d pretty much want here from him and its funny just to see him present and game in a Saw movie. Marisol Nichols possibly is the best of the bunch in the high profile cast members as she just delivers a rock solid performance.

The traps and gore in the movie are pretty much par for the course. There’s a mixture of showing some gross stuff and then leaving some traps more to thought and imagination. All in all, there just aren’t many traps. This film has a lot of detective work and dramatic scenes and some of the action moments are just that; action via punches or shootouts. Its not necessarily disappointing in terms of the traps and gore, just that the sort of lighter amount makes that aspect keep the film more toward the middle of the road than standing out from the pack. Its possible the best one of them all happens in the opening, so it peaks early.

Spiral: From the Book of Saw wants to be a high profile lift up after Jigsaw and maybe elevate the series for a new run. Instead it feels more like an also ran and isn’t all too different in quality from its predecessor. Disappointingly enough, the film is so easy to figure it out, you may second guess yourself in thinking you’re being lead astray by the simplicity. There are also some moments of unintentionally humor that you can’t believe were okay’d (The wigs and spirit gum facial hair in the flashbacks are a riot). For the Saw faithful, Spiral doesn’t do much more than hang at the top of the bottom or the bottom of the middle at bes.t

Video

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Spiral: From The Book of Saw comes to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray in a really impressive fashion. This image is quite poppy and vivid. Its quite rich in razor sharp details, patterns and textures. Gruesome becomes even more gruesome and revealing here. This is a pretty top tier image and I’m sure there won’t be much of a complaint.

Depth:  The film features some really strong depth of field, especially in the interiors with swooping cameras showcasing the pushback and spacing between characters objects and background. Movements are smooth and cinematic with no motion distortion.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and natural. Detail, texture and patterns remains strong and no information is lost on any surfaces or dark shadows. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are very strong here with a good vivid bump. Contrast proves excellent and there’s a nice glow effect on greens and reds here in intended spots. Regular colors are quite strong and bold as well.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones have a bit of a warmer, vivid look to them and are consistent from start to finish. Facial details and textures are clear as day and visible from any given distance. Lots of stuff, almost pores are clear to see.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English Descriptive Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: Spiral has an impressive Atmos track to match its great transfer. This one has a lot of punch to it with the subwoofer absolutely pounding with the score and more. The mix is loud, engaging and carries a lot of layering and depth for a lifelike touch. This thing really rocks in that typical Lionsgate way.

Height: The mix finds itself having some decent stuff from overhead that fits the film itself. Some of the trap sequences with some height add nice touches and any times its accurate to camera, the mix delivers.

Low Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer hits on glass shattering, crashing, gunshots, punches, traps clanging and much more. The sub provides a nice thump.

Surround Sound Presentation:  This track emanates around the room with plenty of room for channels to breath life from any angle. Sound rolls around with good strength and impact. Ambiance is built quite well from the rear and sides with unique sounds.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp with good detail on actor diction and mouth sounds.

Extras

Spiral: From The Book Of Saw comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a redeemable digital code of the film.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Darren Lynn Bousman, Co-screenwriter Josh Stolberg, and Composer Charlie Clouser
  • With Producers Oren Koules and Mark Burg

The Consequences of Your Actions: Creating Spiral (HD, 59:05) – An excellent documentary that really gives a completely detailed look at the process on this film. Chris Rock has a lot of terrific insight and much of the early portion is focused on making his little idea for adding comedic “spice” is able to work. Hell, this thing is better than the film itself if I’m being honest.

Drawing Inspiration: Illustrated Trap Breakdowns (HD, 8:45) – Darren Lynn Bousman gives a voiceover and marks on the trap scenes in the film, giving details and insight to how they pulled them off in the film and what their original ideas were.

Decoding The Marketing Spiral (HD, 6:12) – This featurette is on the poster design history for the series and how they approached doing them for Spiral.

Theatrical Teaser Trailer (HD, 1:43)

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:26)

Summary

Spiral isn’t the worst Saw has to offer, but at its best its pretty middle of the road. But if you’re a fan, you’re gonna still manage to be entertained and find fun in the latest installment. Lionsgate gives it a rather stellar 4K Ultra-HD presentation, with killer audio and video. The highlight of this release is the absolutely excellent documentary on making the film that is better and more engaging than the film itself. Shame though, all that goodwill is lost when you discover the 21 Savages music video isn’t included on this release. For those picking it up, I can’t imagine things getting better than this.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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