Spiral: From the Book of Saw apparently got multiple NC-17 ratings from the MPA (Motion Picture Association) before finally securing its "R" theatrical rating. Director Darren Lynn Bousman revealed the struggle to get Spiral approved for theaters during a recent interview, in which he said, "The NPAA is basically the ratings board, and we got the NC-17 [rating] eleven times. We had to keep going back and re-cutting the movie to try to get it to be acceptable for an R-rating... I had more issues with the NPAA on this movie than I ever had on Saw II, III, or IV."
For those who don't know their SAW history: Spiral is far from being Bousman's first outing with this franchise. As he indicates in his statement, Bousman was the director of SAW II - IV, so you would think he would know how to bring these films into theaters effectively. However, as Bousman futher adds in his interview with Fandom, the MPAA's persistent objections were "baffling because of all the movies I've done this is probably the least gratuitous and it was the one that was somewhat hyper-focused on [by] the MPAA this time around... Regarding the violence, [this] was crazy, we wanted to make a more 'thriller' film than we wanted to go off and do gore..."
So what is Spiral doing so horrifically that the other SAW films did not? In an interview with Comicbook.com, Bousman explained that one particular trap by this new incarnation of the Jigsaw Killer definitely gave the censors repeated pause:
"This is funny, and I might get in trouble for saying this, and I hope I don't: there was a trap that was cut out of the movie for being too gnarly that we actually shot," the Bousman confirmed. "The traps are the most complicated part of the franchise at this point. We've killed so many people in so many different ways, the moment we think of a trap, I think, 'Oh, this is awesome,' and they're like, 'No, we did that in Saw V,' 'Oh, but what about...?' 'No, that was in Saw VIII,' and I'm just like, 'Goddammit.
...We go through this crazy process, and then they go to engineers, literal engineers, to figure out would this really work. And one of my favorite things, and I hope it makes the DVD, are the tests that the effects house and the engineering house where they actually do it."
Spiral: From the Book of Saw is only in theaters starting May 14th.