Chris Rock Originally Wanted To Take Spiral Another Route

Whether you liked the ninth installment or not, Chris Rock was a major force behind "Spiral," you know, the latest joint from "the book of Saw" — whatever that means. Was there a book? Anyway, the comedian originally had different ideas for the 2020 horror hit. In a Hollywood Reporter profile from September of that year, it was revealed that Rock almost changed the entire tone of the film — and by extension, the "Saw" franchise itself — with a pitch he made for the ninth installment.

As the story goes, Rock encountered the head of the film group at Lionsgate, the company that produces the "Saw" films, at a mutual friend's wedding, where he then suggested to the exec that they make another entry in the comedic style of the Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte hit "48 Hours." Rock supposedly came up with this pitch on the fly, but weeks later, "Saw" producer Mark Burg struck a deal with Rock for him to both help develop and also to star in a project with that pitch attached.

The profile also revealed that Rock would have directed "Spiral," if it weren't for his commitment to "Fargo" season 4, where he had a leading role. The movie was originally supposed to be released in May, just weeks before "Fargo" would have its own season premiere on FX — but then COVID hit, and the release of "Spiral" was frustratingly postponed a year to May 2021.

Tonal Shifts And The World Of Saw

Look, I'm in no way trying to claim that the "Saw" franchise doesn't have comedic moments. It absolutely does, and they're some of the most beloved cornerstones of the franchise. They are moments we come back to and remind us why the series works so well as a whole, but there's a catch about them: They're usually unintentional, and that's the beauty of them. Between John Kramer's backwards hat and Mark Hoffman's entire Jigsaw career, there's a lot of unintentional self-parody in these films — and the idea of having a comedic version of a "Saw" film just kind of messes with the core of what these films are.

In fact, the common themes running through "Saw" aren't funny at all. The films deal with everything from guilt to loss to the horrors of the American healthcare system. That last one seems like a joke, but a large portion of the foundation of John Kramer's character — who he becomes and why — hinges on the misdiagnosis of his cancer and the way that was handled by those in power, those who had the ability to help him. We don't get all the pieces until several movies down the line, but that is the motivation for putting not only Dr. Lawrence Gordon but also Dr. Logan Nelson in traps at different points in Kramer's timeline. The root of the "Saw" franchise" is far from funny, so to make an installment that is birthed from a place of humor would not only totally out of place, it would also be, in a way, disrespectful to what "Saw" is actually about. 

As a "Saw" evangelist, "Spiral" is not high on my list of favorite sequels in the franchise, but at least we didn't get the Chris Rock version of things. I don't know if I would've survived that trap.

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