Back in 2004 Saw was unleashed to the world courtesy of James Wan and Leigh Whannel. A horror franchise so unique that it captivated many and birthed the torture porn genre. Thirteen wonderful years later and seven glorious films later the most profitable franchise of all time returns. Jigsaw is his name and he’s back on the big screen at Halloween where he belongs. It wouldn’t be Halloween without Saw.
Directed by the Spierig Brothers, the guys behind Daybreakers and Predestination, Jigsaw revolves around a series of murders that all point to one killer. Jigsaw. But John Kramer (AKA Jigsaw) has been dead for 10 years. Is this a copycat or is Jigsaw working his weird and wonderful traps from beyond the grave?
What I love about the Saw franchise is that every film weaves into the next, pays homage to the previous and continues such a beautiful line of mind-games and ingenuity that you just don’t expect to find in a sequel let alone seven films later. Jigsaw is no exception, adding more fuel to the fire in terms of speculation and the puzzle still doesn’t feel complete. There is certainly more room here for expansion and as a Saw fan, long may it continue.
Jigsaw does fall at one hurdle that makes the franchise so strong thou however and that’s the infamous traps. The traps don’t feel as effective or as ‘Jigsaw’ curated as they should be this time around. The traps in this instalment feel completely distant to anything that John Kramer had set up in previous instalments and even looked sub-par in comparison to his predecessor Mark Hoffman’s interpretation. I always look forward to new and inventive ways of gory torture that Saw brings to the table but something about this selection hit home for me. The funniest trap for me was the bucket trap. You have buckets on your head going towards saw blades. It’s almost hiding the gore and that’s bad showmanship. Get that bucket off and let us see the splatter! The gore, whilst being a main attraction to the Saw franchise fans always takes a back seat to the beautifully crafted story. Whilst the story dips off here and there Josh Stolberg has done an incredible job with the script. The franchise has never been about character development, the franchise has always focused on the value of life and the extent one might go to preserve or appreciate what they have been given.
Whilst Jigsaw stays true to the older films in some capacity it also steps into its own with more of the investigation side of things taking it more into the realms of a crime caper movie. As a devoted Saw fan, i’m staring at the screen more intently than Eleven from Stranger Things hoping to convert it’s genre back to the one I know and love. The investigation segments do get a little tiresome and I feel as thou they could have been shortened and tidied up a little bit to stay focused on the main segments of the plot. I’m watching a Saw movie, not CSI, if people aren’t getting chopped up every 10-15 minutes with a nice twist, throwback and choppy plot flow here and there then what am I doing here?
I felt the cast did a wonderful job of staying true to the Saw casting ‘type’ and only odd cliche’ lines of dialogue dislodge me from the story ever so briefly. As a whole Jigsaw is a well-oiled machine and despite an opening that really didn’t belong to a Saw franchise and a questionable ending that felt somewhat disjointed, I still really rather enjoyed it.
Jigsaw proves to be a fitting piece to the puzzle if albeit an awkward fit in places. If you can get over some terrible lighting and a bit of slow pacing here and there you can quickly settle in your seat knowing that this Saw film doesn’t feel out of place in its 8th instalment and that’s all I ever wanted.
Welcome to the family Jigsaw.
Review by Sean Evans