It seems we can’t make it an hour without news of another delayed film release arising as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns. New Mutants seems to be a fantasy, and Tenet feels like it's trolling us. With all these films getting pushed back, we can’t help but wonder if it’ll age them, leaving them feeling less relevant in the world 2021 proves to be. But, one upcoming would-be blockbuster should be safe from any universal changes. Spiral, the next installment in “the book of Saw,” will be least affected by the delayed releases since it won't age from modernity because it definitely takes place in the past in Saw canon.
The Saw movies have notoriously played with timeline for twists. The first installment is presented out of order, and ever since Daniel Matthews (Erik Knudsen) turned out to be alive and ‘safe’ in Saw II while Eric Matthews (Donnie Wahlberg) thought he was watching live footage of the sadistic games along with the audience, the movies have played with the ‘when’ of it all for its best twists. The events of Saw III, IV and V are simultaneous and overlapping, and the events of Jigsaw are a split between what’s new and old. Not only that, the films notoriously go back to the beginning, changing what we thought was the truth, amending the entire canon as each film rolls out. Keen fans know that anything looped into the twists of Saw will most certainly not be linear, and that includes Spiral.
There’s not much to go on, which is probably on purpose. The first trailer for Spiral gives audiences a look into the lives of our new subject detectives, Shcenk (Max Minghella) and Banks (Chris Rock). There’s not a phone, computer, or any technology to be seen that might suggest relative date. The only clue is a 5x7 glossy print photo in the hands of Schenk. Sure, photos in movies have weirdly outlasted the realistic likelihood of someone holding a photograph, but this photo studio glossy suggests Shenk doesn’t have an appropriate lockscreen image on his 2020 smart phone.
What’s more? Most of the shots of cars are form the inside, with no clear images of the grill, or are alternatively, of dated vehicles. Perhaps the classic cars are part of the David Fincher aesthetic they’re trying to emulate, but it’s a convenient way to ensure showing no modern vehicles that might suggest a date.
The canon clues, if any, are the snippets of dialogue that suggest characters are familiar with Jigsaw, but not familiar enough. Comparing the police department logos between the canon series’ Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) and Rigg (Lyriq Bent) to the officers in the Spiral trailer suggest this story could exist in a different fictional city. That said, we’ve seen collaborating police departments before and have to imagine Jigsaw’s theatrical crimes were heard of far and wide.
That’s what is so confusing about the spiral. The spiral logo is painted on the truck in what suggests it’s an early scene, something that seems to be, ahem, painted as a new move on the killer’s part. But the spirals have shown up before. They showed up on the walls in the house in Saw II and are peppered on the walls of the kill rooms throughout the series.
Though we can’t be certain what Banks is seeing when he visits the group gathered in the church, it’s reminiscent of the Jigsaw support groups that appear in Saw 3D, attended by the infamous Dr. Gordon (Cary Elwes) and Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flanery).
But the biggest tell might be the one that is hidden in plain sight: Banks saying “whoever did this has another motive. They’re targeting cops.” Sure, Jigsaw and his followers have seemed to spend their time targeting people deemed not to appreciate their lives; addicts, insurance professionals, and real estate tycoons. But the cult of Jigsaw has always had a proclivity for law enforcement.
We see this in his stunt to target Eric Matthews, as well as the attack on the investigating police department. Earlier, Jigsaw kills David Tapp (Danny Glover). As a point of fact, he put Agent Peter Strahm (Scott Patterson) through one of the longer and more arduous of his games.
The Saw movies have never once played it straight with timeline, and like watching a Shyamalan movie and expecting a twist, we should expect a non-linear timeline reveal in each installment. So, while other films might grasp for relevance in a post 2020 world and risk looking like the time Jason Borne used a wired headset long after the advent of Bluetooth, Spiral will be safe, because it takes place in the past.
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