It’s been seven years since Saw: The Final Chapter was released in theaters. Seven years and no one, except the die-hard fans, has really been clamoring for more. Yet, here we are. Jigsaw, originally entitled Saw: Legacy, is a continuation of the Saw franchise, which began in 2004 with director James Wan’s Saw. Since the original, there’s been seven of these things (eight including Jigsaw), getting worse and worse as they go.
Here’s the thing about these movies: most of them aren’t good. The first Saw is surprisingly great — it’s far more a psychological and claustrophobic thriller with a great twist at the end rather than a gross over-the-top torture film. The franchise went on to earn that reputation in the later sequels, coining the phrase torture-porn and completely diverting from what the original was.
The trend went on for years. Years and years and years. Now, we’ve got a brand new Saw film — Jigsaw — trying to prove that this property still has some merit behind it’s existence.
Jigsaw takes place, presumably, some time after the events of The Final Chapter. John Kramer (Tobin Bell) died in one of the previous films (The only Saw film I’ve ever actually entirely sat through is the first one, just bits and pieces of the others), making the world think that the jigsaw murders are over.
But, of course, that wouldn't make for that interesting of a movie. A couple of bodies show up, indicating that Jigsaw is back at it again, which causes a new team of FBI agents to begin a new investigation to try and figure out who’s behind all of this.
And, for those of you who don’t know what those murders typically include, let’s break it down. Kramer chooses his victims based off people he thinks are ‘guilty.’ These are people who have done some serious crime in their past, and yet have somehow evaded all punishment or consequence that comes with it (Don’t ask me how he finds all of these secretly guilty people, or how he sets up all these traps).
He then kidnaps and drugs them, brings them to his torture warehouse and forces them to compete in deadly games that typically involve stabbing, slicing, burning or shooting. “I want to play a game,” is Kramer's repeated line. “Live or die, make your choice.”
This time he’s found five new victims and has brought them out to an old abandoned farm house that’s full of new deadly traps and the like. And from there the movie more or less plays out as one might expect a typical Saw film would, for better or worse.
Here’s the thing about Jigsaw — there’s no reason for this movie to exist. When taking a seven year hiatus and hiring new directors (Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig), one would hope that it’s with the intent to try and improve the direction the films have taken. It doesn’t. Jigsaw is more or less the exact same formula that we’ve seen seven times before, without offering anything new.
In that, there’s a lot the movie does wrong. The FBI storyline is completely unnecessary, boring and takes away all the tension that the film should otherwise be building. Not only have we seen this all before, but the acting to accompany these subplots isn’t all too stellar and most audience members will see the final ‘twist’ coming from a mile away.
However — there are a few things that the movie actually does right, or at least improves upon since the last Saw outing, making Jigsaw somewhat watchable. The traps themselves can be fun to experience. The level of gore has been reduced, allowing those who aren’t into the whole torture-porn phenomenon the opportunity to watch the movie without having to worry they’re going to watch a ten minute long scene of someone dissecting a brain. Yes, there’s still blood and all and people get hurt (would it be a Saw movie if that wasn’t true?), but it’s edited and shot in such a way that’s far more reminiscent of the first Saw movie, making it more bearable for the average horror movie.
The characters are also, to a point, entertaining to watch. None of them are all that likable given their histories, and we’re certainly not rooting for them to actually survive. But the dynamic within the group was somewhat interesting. At least, the character played by Paul Braunstein was.
That doesn’t mean Jigsaw needed to be made. Looking back at the original Saw, these movies have trailed off far from what Wan ever intended them to be. It started in just one single room, with Cary Elwes and Leigh Whannel trying to find a way to escape. Now, characters are sent down swirling heated spikes of doom. Yet, Jigsaw is certainly not the worst of the bunch. Is it, by any means, a good movie? Not at all. And is it going to win over any fans who were against the franchise to begin with? Not in a million years. But, can it be seen as harmless Halloween fun that has at least lost some of the undesirable torture-porn element? Sure.
Watch the trailer here, and let us know in the comments below whether you think Jigsaw was a movie that needed to be made or not. Or, tell us what movie you are going to watch this Halloween and then check out this list for some more spooky recommendations.
Here we bloody go again: 'Jigsaw' review5