You can’t really blame anyone for being skeptical of the new Saw movie. First of all, its title, Spiral: From the Book Of Saw, is pretty silly. But perhaps more importantly, the latter films in this once-innovative franchise have been convoluted and redundant—enough so to make even longtime fans give up. So imagine our surprise when the first trailer for Chris Rock’s new entry into this languishing franchise, which also stars Samuel L. Jackson and Max Minghella, actually looked... good?
Director Darren Lynn Bousman returned to direct Spiral: From the Book of Saw, which I will simply call “the new Saw” from now on for my own sanity. This is an encouraging sign, given that Bousman also helmed Saws II, III, and IV. The second and third Saw films were, after all, some of the higher points for the series—and although IV was, indeed, a low point, no one’s record is perfect! And with Chris Rock on board as both a star and executive producer, this new film seems like a fresh take on the concept that will still offer plenty of callbacks for diehards.
In the new film, Rock and Minghella star as police detectives who quickly become mired in a troubling case: There’s a murderer out there targeting cops, and whoever they are, they’re leaving spirals in their wake. (Spirals, longtime fans might recall, also emblazon the cheeks of John Kramer’s beloved doll, Billy the Puppet.) Another good sign: John Kramer himself is nowhere to be seen. Perhaps this Saw movie won’t find some convoluted way to bring its long-dead puppet master back into the mix!
Samuel L. Jackson seems to be having a great time here, as well. In fact, it’s Jackson who utters the trailer’s callback to one of the franchise’s most memorable catchphrases, when he shouts, “You wanna play games, motherfucker?!” The best callback, however, comes at the very end, as Rock sits chained to a pipe, staring morbidly at a saw in his other hand. The film premieres May 15.