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Chris Rock Is in a … Saw Movie?

He Saw the sign?

I have to say, I was not anticipating Chris Rock to be the one taking a later career turn into mystery and suspense, but here we are with the trailer for Spiral: From the Book of Saw.

Now, Spiral is not, sadly, about artisanal woodworking, but a reboot—or continuation or something—of the popular Saw franchise. For those in need of a refresher: The original series started with Saw in 2004 and continued with yearly additions to the canon every year until Saw 3D in 2010, which was the seventh film.

In case you’ve repressed the memory, the movies are focused on a serial killer—Jigsaw, played in the films by Tobin Bell—who traps people in sadistic games that torture them physically and psychologically, and those who survive are, I guess, rehabilitated? I’m not sure, because I am a wimp with no interest in seeing people cut off their own arms. One thing I am certain of is that the original Jigsaw died at some point in the franchise, but like any good horror villain, he just keeps finding a way to come back or influence others.

The Saw franchise stopped after Saw 3D, but an attempt was made to revive it in 2017 with Jigsaw. That movie didn’t actually bring Jigsaw back, but was about an apprentice, and now we have … Spiral: From the Book of Saw. I guess, like every insufferable white guy that thinks he knows better than everyone else, Jigsaw too was working on a novel in his spare time.

Here’s what’s interesting about this. For one, Spiral is directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, who helmed Saws II through IV, and it’s written by the same guys behind Jigsaw, along with Chris Rock himself. So, it would seem, this is not a hard reboot or reimagining, but a new take on the long-running series with some disciple literally working from Jigsaw’s playbook.

What obviously makes this different is the marquee names of Rock and Samuel L. Jackson. The draw of the Saw movies was never stars, but the gore and horror. So, how did this happen? Well, according to Rock, who was asked about Spiral while promoting his role in the similarly dark and non-comedic fourth season of Fargo at the winter TCA tour, he pitched his own idea for a new Saw film to the head of Lionsgate, the studio behind the franchise, at a friend’s wedding.

Rock was interested in Saw in the same way he was interested in Fargo, as something new he’d never tried before:

“You wanna be interested in what you’re doing. I was like, ‘Fargo? That sounds great. That’s an adventure I haven’t been on. I’ve never done a television show before. Okay.’ And then, ‘A horror movie? I’ve never done that.’ Even without art, just in life, you wanna travel and see new things, you wanna meet new people, you wanna try new foods.”

Rock’s presence in this film is sure to change its tone, at least slightly, as he promises there will be more jokes, even though the trailer makes it look deathly serious, beyond Rock’s misogynist quips in the opening. Maybe he’s set up as a jerk so we’ll know he’s destined to end up with that titular saw in his hand and a choice to make.

Spiral: From the Book of Saw will hit theaters May 15, 2020.

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.