In Jigsaw (18), bodies are turning up all around the city, all having met a grisly demise. One thing they all have in common is that they all bear the same puzzle piece mark. As the investigation proceeds all signs point to one man; the notorious Jigsaw killer. But he’s been dead for 10 years. Is this the work of a copycat or is he operating these deadly games from beyond the grave?
They must have wanted to shake things up by bringing on a new team behind the camera, with long time editor and director of one of the best instalments, Saw VI, Kevin Greutert, and composer Charlie Clouser notably missing. If they were trying to reinvent the series for a new audience, they could have either; ramped up the creatively sadistic traps or try and give the film a more stylish feel. The result; neither was done and instead we got a film that could have gone straight to DVD.
The film opens very differently, which I liked. They set a different tone that Saw fans were probably not used to as it featured an action-packed foot chase. This could have taken the film in a new direction but hopes of that were quickly dashed as we were thrust into a new game with all new weakly-written characters. The acting was a lot better than previous instalments but because of the lack of character development you never really care about them, and once you see why they’re there, you care for them even less.
A nice change for me was seeing the victims actually try to work together instead of the every-man-for-himself attitude present in previous movies. A little nit-pick from me was that there was too much shouting, and I understand that they can’t be calm and collected when they might be pinned to a wall full of saw blades, but when they’re all frantic and panicky I couldn’t understand what they were saying. Maybe it wasn’t that important.
Now for the main event, and why most Saw fans have stuck with the franchise, the traps. There were a few creative traps, I particularly liked the one where they get buried in grain and had to dodge falling projectiles, don’t worry it’s in the trailers so no spoilers. Other than that, they were all very underwhelming and lacked the visceral intensity of the other films. Even the medical scenes of them finding and cutting open the bodies felt like an episode of CSI. They either went for different variations of previously used traps or CGI filled messes straight out of a Resident Evil movie.
I want to mention the realism of one moment. In the original, Dr Gordon sawed his own foot off and escaped. But when he was found he was white as a ghost through all the blood loss. In Jigsaw someone loses a limb but instead of looking deathly ill, they just look like a little sweaty, believable? I think not.
I enjoyed the story at times, with various characters suspecting each other giving you a sense of who did it and why which made it fairly gripping. However, at other times the story dragged, and I felt like Jigsaw might be the least engaged I’ve been in a Saw film. The “shock twist” that we get at the end of every Saw was nowhere near as satisfying as the original’s or even the second one. It also added to the continuity mess, but I won’t go into that.
Overall, it may seem liked I hated this film. I didn’t, I was just disappointed. That might be because I’m fresh off from binging the whole series prior to this one’s release so my expectations were high. Or it could be that the movie just didn’t deliver. I just didn’t think the film was necessary, it’s been 7 years since the last one and (spoiler) to not really connect with any of the others was a poor decision.
My rating: 5/10