James Wan and Leigh Whannell’s Saw was very much a horror movie, but it also heavily incorporated elements of the mystery thriller as the story slowly unfolded and built towards the major final twist. However, after it made over $100 million at the box office on a budget of just $1.2 million and sequels became an almost annual event, it very firmly settled into a repetitive groove.
The thriller elements were almost entirely stripped away as the focus fell largely on the array of elaborate traps constructed by Tobin Bell’s Jigsaw, with the Saw franchise soon devolving into part of the torture porn craze that dominated the horror genre in the mid-2000s. That didn’t seem to bother the fans, though, with the eight installments to date having raked in a combined total of $976 million globally.
While director Darren Lynn Bousman is returning for this year’s reboot Spiral having previously helmed the second, third and fourth entries, it was made clear that the ninth chapter will be an altogether different beast when it was announced that Chris Rock would star, produce and had even developed the story.
In fact, in a recent interview, Bousman revealed that Rock had pitched Spiral in the vein of David Fincher’s Se7en, which is encouraging news given that the 1995 modern classic is frequently lauded as one of the finest psychological thrillers to ever come out of Hollywood.
“Chris came in with a thriller concept. He pitched this very elaborate, dense idea. We wanted it to feel much more like Se7en. But it has so many ties to the mythos of Saw.”
Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson would hardly have boarded Spiral if it was simply going to retread familiar ground, and stripping the concept back to basics and once again focusing on the less gruesome aspects of the mythology is arguably the smartest way to reinvent a brand that’s been running on fumes for the last decade.