13 years ago, James Wan was put on the map with the release of Saw. A film whose ending truly left me floored. As a 17-year-old, many scenarios went through my head while watching the film as to what the conclusion would be. However, when the man who had been laying down on the floor, who was assumed to be dead for the entire length of the film rose from the floor, introducing himself as Jigsaw, I was joined by an entire theater who all gasped in shock. A truly great twist in horror film history. Saw was such a success that it spawned six sequels. These sequels propelled it to join the likes of Halloween, Friday The 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street, as the 5th highest grossing horror franchise of all time.
Fast forward to 2017, after 2 decent sequels followed by 4 pretty abysmal ones, the Saw franchise has risen from the dead with the release of Jigsaw. Jigsaw is the eighth installment picking up a decade after the death of our main killer. The killings seem to have begun again to what is believed to be a Jigsaw copycat.
I. for one had little to no expectations for this film. The trailers looked Razzie awards-worthy and after the way, the franchise was thought to be concluded with the 2010’s Saw 3D, aka Saw VII, I along with most of the horror cinephiles had tuned out on anything dealing with John Kramer and his traps. However, to my surprise, Jigsaw was not the train wreck I was expecting. Unlike the previous 4 installments in which the writers and director were aiming at ways to up the gore and creative traps, Jigsaw aims to actually tell a story to balance out the gore and traps.
With Saw 4, 5, 6, and 7, most of the traps were just put in place with 0 meaning to each individual’s sin that Jigsaw wanted them to fess up to while Jigsaw manages to create ways in which traps in the film triggered feel both fresh and new. It feels as if some thought has been put into it opposed to what felt like, “what ways can we gross out the audience the most.”
I have always looked at Jigsaw as the “moral compass” of the horror genre’s list of famous killers. While murder is still being committed, he truly thinks he is doing the right thing. While in college, I would jokingly discuss with my friends, that my trap would consist of me being drenched in bird food and having to escape a room full of birds. Why? I am deathly terrified of birds and that trap would fit my crimes against humanity if thrown in the world of Saw. Jigsaw is able to go back to basics of the original concept and truly aim for the players of his game to confess their sins.
Performance-wise is where the film drops a significant amount. While not all are terrible, most of these performances flatline just like Jigsaw’s victims. Hannah Emily Anderson take as forensic scientist falls a bit flat, while Callum Keith Rennie portrays his character as nothing more than the cliché cop who at times feels like he is in another film with his over the top, scene-chewing performance. Out of all the performances, Laura Vandervoort as an impulsive victim in the games does a fine job while Paul Braunstein adds some comedic relief as Ryan.
As with every Saw film, there are plenty of twists and turns, but I’ll leave that for you cinephiles to go out and see for yourself. Coming out of the theater, this installment of the franchise reminded me of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, a film that while not good, was able to bring some form of entertainment for the masses that had been missing from the films. Jigsaw will in no way, shape or form be a game changer for the horror genre but if you’re looking for an entertaining 92 minutes this Halloween weekend, and realize that Madea films are just awful films, then Jigsaw is the right option for you!
Reel Talk gives Jigsaw 2.5 Reels