Spiral (also known as Spiral: From the Book of Saw) is a 2021 American horror film directed by Darren Lynn Bousman and written by Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger. It is the ninth installment in the Saw film series. The film stars Chris Rock, Max Minghella, Marisol Nichols, and Samuel L. Jackson, and follows police efforts to stop a Jigsaw copycat killer. The original creators of the series, James Wan and Leigh Whannell, serve as executive producers alongside Rock.
During a Fourth of July parade, an off-duty cop, Det. Marv Boswick, chases a thief down a sewer drainage pipe. Attacked from behind by a figure wearing a pig mask, Boswick wakes to find himself suspended by his tongue in an active subway tunnel and is given a choice via recorded message: tear out his tongue and live, or remain until the next train arrives, killing him. Unable to escape the trap in time, Boswick is run over by the train and killed. The next day, police chief Angie Garza assigns Det. Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks a new partner, idealistic rookie William Schenk. Banks and Schenk investigate Boswick’s death and Banks realizes this to be similar to the now deceased Jigsaw Killer.
Meanwhile, a homicide detective named Fitch – who several years prior had ignored a backup call from Banks, resulting in him nearly getting killed – is abducted and placed in a trap where he must rip his fingers off to avoid electrocution in a filling water basin; he also fails to escape and dies. Some officers begin to suspect that Banks may be responsible, due to his history with Fitch. A box then arrives at the station, containing a pig puppet and a piece of Schenk’s tattooed skin inside. A small vial inside the box directs the police to a butcher shop, which was previously a hobby shop that Banks and his father, retired chief Marcus Banks, would go to. Upon arriving, the team discovers a tape recorder and a skinned corpse, identified as Schenk. Deciding to track down the killer himself, Marcus travels to a warehouse, where he is abducted. Shortly afterwards, Garza is kidnapped, and placed in a trap in the precinct’s cold storage where she has to sever her spinal cord on a blade to stop hot wax flowing from a pipe onto her face; she manages to successfully sever her spine but dies of her injuries, with her body found by Banks.
While chasing a lead, Banks is captured and wakes up at the warehouse, handcuffed to a pipe with a hacksaw nearby. He considers sawing off his arm, but is able to escape using a loose bobby pin. He then discovers Pete, his former partner who was fired when Banks exposed a murder he committed, chained in place. In front of him is a large glass-crushing machine, which has been modified to hurl shrapnel at him at high speed; a tape recorder explains that Banks can choose to either free him or leave him to die. Although Banks attempts to save Pete, he dies from blood loss. Moving to another room, Banks then finds Schenk, who is revealed to have faked his death by using the skinned corpse of the thief who lured Boswick into the tunnels, and has been the copycat all along. He explains that the person Pete murdered was Schenk’s father, who was shot because he had agreed to testify against a dirty cop. He also reveals that Marcus, during his time as chief, deliberately protected corrupt officers (including Garza) in order to “clean” the streets of crime more efficiently.
Believing that Banks can be an ally, Schenk presents him with a final test, revealing Marcus restrained in the air and slowly being drained of blood. Schenk calls 911 and claims that he is a civilian being pursued by a shooter, resulting in the dispatcher sending a SWAT team to his location. He hands Banks a revolver with a single bullet, and offers him the choice to either use the last bullet to shoot a target that will save Marcus but allow Schenk to escape, or to kill Schenk and let his father bleed to death. Banks decides to shoot the target to save Marcus, causing his restraints to loosen and lowering him to the ground, and then begins to fight Schenk. Shortly after, the SWAT team arrives and inadvertently triggers a tripwire, causing Marcus’s restraints to yank him upward again. A gun is revealed to be affixed to his arm, and when the restraints pull it upward, the SWAT team mistakes him for a shooter and kill him. Banks screams in anguish as Schenk escapes.
Further information on the cast and characters: List of Saw (franchise) cast members and List of Saw characters
Chris Rock as Det. Ezekiel “Zeke” Banks
Max Minghella as Det. William Schenk
Marisol Nichols as Capt. Angie Garza
Samuel L. Jackson as Marcus Banks
Zoie Palmer as Kara Boswick
Genelle Williams as Lisa Banks
Richard Zeppieri as Det. Fitch
Dan Petronijevic as Det. Marv Boswick
Additionally, Tobin Bell, who played John Kramer / Jigsaw in all previous Saw films, does not return in the film, making Spiral the first film in the franchise which doesn’t physically feature Bell nor feature the Jigsaw character onscreen beyond photographs. Bousman explained that the film’s killer is a “Jigsaw copycat” who differentiates from the original Jigsaw, stating his intention to not recast Bell in the iconic role. Bell had expressed interest in returning as Jigsaw if the story delved into the origins of Billy the Puppet.
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