Horror fans first met John Kramer in the debut Saw film back in 2004, learning that he was a man with a terminal illness who crafted torturous devices in hopes of giving victims a new appreciation for their lives. Kramer definitively died in the third film, but the twisted and complex nature of the Saw franchise allowed his legacy to continue to be felt through flashbacks. With Spiral: From the Book of Saw, the series has been reinvented while also continuing the traditions that came before it, leaving fans to wonder if Tobin Bell has returned to the role for the ninth time.
WARNING: Spoilers below for Spiral: From the Book of Saw
In short, no, Tobin Bell has not returned to the franchise for even a brief appearance in Spiral. However, the impact of John Kramer is still felt, as a new killer has adopted Kramer's mission, though rather than through any sort of mentor and apprentice relationship, the killer is more inspired by Jigsaw's philosophies and practices. We do get a glimpse at Bell as Kramer through photos of the figure, though there are no flashbacks or other direct ties to the eight films that came before it.
A criminal mastermind unleashes a twisted form of justice in Spiral, the terrifying new chapter from the book of Saw. Working in the shadow of his father, an esteemed police veteran (Samuel L. Jackson), brash Detective Ezekiel "Zeke" Banks (Chris Rock) and his rookie partner (Max Minghella) take charge of a grisly investigation into murders that are eerily reminiscent of the city's gruesome past. Unwittingly entrapped in a deepening mystery, Zeke finds himself at the center of the killer's morbid game.
Despite not appearing in this installment, Bell hasn't ruled out a return to the role entirely, though he has also expressed that he feels as though the figure is larger than life and that he's happy to see another performer bring Kramer to life.
"It's about the writing, if the writing is great," Bell shared with ComicBook.com when discussing what would make him return to the franchise. "John Kramer is a King Lear-sized character, in my view, there's a huge range to him. He's interested in a multiplicity of things, from theology to philosophy to music to art, you name it. It all comes down to the writing. Actors are always looking for great scripts and great characters. I've had the wonderful opportunity of playing this guy in, let's see, one, two, three, four, five...eight films. Having an opportunity to develop him and to develop the people he cares about in those films, that's been great. I can't, frankly, prophesize about the future. You'll have to wait and see."
Spiral: From the Book of Saw is in theaters now.
Do you wish Kramer had returned for this sequel? Let us know in the comments below or contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter to talk all things horror and Star Wars!