Spiral: From the Book of Saw

AMC A-List is reactivated! And of course, I couldn’t use the first ticket for a discount matinee at a cheap theater, I used it for a Prime seat at Century City. Now usually Century City was for post work movies, since it’s near the office, but I thought it would make for a lovely Saturday outting.

Got there a little early, so I could get some shopping done, including a few purchases that were actually budgeted for the following week. It was a little weird that a lot of my walking shortcuts were closed off as dining areas, but otherwise it felt good to be out amongst the humans again. And of course, what trip to Century City would be complete without me wolfing down Tender Greens in the dining area after trailers had already started for my film, as well as sneaking in a cupcake from the Sprinkles ATM that I ate as soon as the lights went out.

Yup, that’s right. First adventures with food in a masked world. Found a little outta the way single seater in a satellite dining area for a quick paced lunch. I will say, the CDC’s new guidelines went a long way towards making me feel comfortable with things. Thankfully, Cali is still masking up for a while longer, but much of the weight (and fear) were lifted in knowing that my vaxx meant I was perfectly okay to be doing such things (and even slightly riskier ones, if I so chose).

The theater was at Covid capacity, or at least it looked like it was. Prime means those big giant seats, so it’s tough to get a good look at the crowd, but I think it was full with buffer seating. I will say, one additional perk to knowing I won’t have a stranger next to me is knowing I can put my bag down in the adjacent seat. Even as I was chomping on my cupcake with my mask pulled down, it felt fine. I’d rather let the movie scare me than the environment.

I know I’ve been over how much and why I love Saw. I did consider having a marathon before going in, but I think we’ve been over how that didn’t go well last time. It actually had me a little worried that the existential dread of the present moment that we’re only just emerging from would cloud the experience this time. Thankfully, between the hope of being in the theater and the minimal Saw-ness of this Saw, that was fine.

We all know the basic conceit of the franchise, yeah? Dude named Jigsaw (or his disciples) concocts really complicated games that test its players and punish them for their sins. Very survive, and the ones who do are not left unscathed. Most of the films have a B story that revolves around the police investigation trying to capture this gamemaster. Spiral inverts the structure somewhat. It’s more of a mystery/thriller, focusing on the procedural side of things, with the games sprinkled in throughout. Jigsaw’s spirit lives on where he does not.

While it felt a bit more Saw adjacent than proper Saw, I think it was a really interesting way to bring things back. Shake things up, and give just enough reason to justify it. Given that they’ve run out of ways to bring Jigsaw back himself, this was a necessary step. The connection to the originals was rather tenuous, mostly an excuse to include the bloody sports. As a result, it didn’t give me the usual icky feeling and disgust at humanity I typically get from these, but I felt the same anticipation every time a contraption was revealed.

What I loved most was every bit of Chris Rock’s involvement. Starting from him pitching the initial story and being credited as a writer. That’s just bad ass. I’ve always really liked seeing comedians take on more serious roles and this one looked good on him. He’s always been a bit over the top for my tastes, but he reigned it in beautifully to provided just enough comic relief and more than enough personality to carry the story. I really hope this is a path he sticks with.

His partner, Max Minghella has officially graduated from being “oh that guy!” in my mind to knowing who he is. Loved him, wanna see more, going back to revisit his previous work that I’ve seen him in.

This was a very solid thriller, if not fully a Saw movie. I do take issue with some of the games, because I’m not entirely convinced at how “win-able” they were. Jigsaw’s rules were very strict, and I’m nothing if not a stickler for rules. Still, there is a new puppeteer at play, so I’ll forgive them not entirely following the letter of the law. There might have been a little bit of the spark that was lacking, but for the most part I was not disappointed.

I left the theater feeling really energized in a way I haven’t in a long time. I didn’t wanna go home yet. I ended up getting stuck in traffic, taking nearly 40 minutes to drive down Santa Monica Blvd, so at least I got some more sunshine. I looked up other movies to use my A-List on later that night, but the pickings are a bit slim at the moment. I’ll certainly be stepping up my movie game in the coming weeks, so maybe I should pace myself at least initially.

Spiral: From the Book of Saw – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n