If you were like me in thinking that JIGSAW would be a breath of fresh air to the otherwise stale SAW franchise… We thought wrong. Dead wrong.
For those entirely unfamiliar, the original Saw film followed John Kramer (Tobin Bell), nicknamed the Jigsaw Killer. After receiving a grave cancer diagnosis, this old man turned sadist set his sights on those who were taking life for granted. Kind of counterproductive though, as his own precious time ticked away all the while. He invented and rigged extravagant death traps, designed to metaphorically cleanse these transgressors of their demons. Each return to Jigsaw’s snare promised to be more gory that the last.
Going into the 8th installment of the franchise, I think it’s safe to assume the majority of ‘Halloweekend’ audiences had not kept up with the yearly Saw installments. (Yearly up until 2010, with Saw 3D as the intended final film of the franchise.) Like me for instance; I had thrown the towel in after all the distraught piggy sequence in Saw 3. Year after year, the Hollywood crank turned, dropping a new puzzle piece of a film that only complicated the stories and timelines of the installments that came before it. They were able to keep a terminally ill Jigsaw alive and game-mastering for the first 3 Saw films. Afterwards, (or before, I can’t really tell) the torch was passed to unpaid intern after unpaid intern in the subsequent sequels.
(Don’t worry, I’m not going to go through the whole series, we’d never get to my review. Instead, here’s a 5 minute video summarizing the story-line up until now. It’s not a requirement, but if you’re unfamiliar with the franchise.. this’ll help that “un-paid intern” bit really sink in. )
Okay, we’re all caught up. Definitely didn’t get lost halfway through that summary and give up. Nope. (Yep.)
Originally titled “Saw: Legacy“, the film was re-titled to Jigsaw before release. This was likely an attempt to coax those who had abandoned the franchise (me) in an effort to return on the vague assumption this would be a reboot/refresher (it worked). But, alas this latest puzzle piece has again been cut from the same cloth. Warning: Stale Mystery Ahead.
Jigsaw, though teasing the return of a long-dead serial killer, is another Origin story in disguise. Following in the footsteps of this year’s Annabelle: Creation, and the almost-shelved Leatherface, Jigsaw attempts to tell us the backstory of John Kramer. Only, they’ve forgotten – that they’ve done that before.
We follow two main timelines in the film. The first is the main torture-chamber where the latest game has been set-up. 5 unsuspecting victims have awoken with metal buckets rigged to their heads, attached to a chain hastily dragging them towards a wall of menacing saw blades. After solving the riddle of room one, they are corralled into the next, revealing a rudimentary torture chamber rigged inside an old barn. Things are about to get Hay-ry. Har Har.
In the second world; we follow a cop duo and their two pathologist pals as they try to solve the case of the copycat killer. Bodies from the barn game have been turning up all over the city.. and because this universe only has four people in it, they themselves are the only suspects in this mystery. Don’t expect any real police work. There just aren’t the resources. We’ll pin it on the girl that did the autopsy, okay?
And as is Saw movie fashion, things just aren’t what they seem. It all gets a bit complicated from here on in. And, when they finally attempt to pull the rug out from under us in the big Ta-Da! – we’re rolling our eyes. Been there, done that. If Jigsaw has indeed awoken this franchise from the grave, let’s hope in any future installments they abandon the stale whodunit in favor of what audiences truly want to see; a gory slasher set in a medievally-modern torture chamber. I think we’ve learned after 7 follow-up films that we can’t re-create the magic of the original. The mystery element has got to go.
But, this film isn’t entirely irredeemable. See it opening weekend with a gaggle of gigglers and you can all shout at the screen.
Jigsaw is now playing in theatres everywhere.