UK Release Date: 26th October 2017
Runtime: 92 minutes
Director: The Spierig Brothers
Writer: Josh Stolberg, Peter Goldfinger
Starring: Tobin Bell, Laura Vandervoort, Paul Braunstein, Callum Keith Rennie, Matt Passmore, Hannah Emily Anderson, Mandela Van Peebles
Synopsis: A decade after the death of the Jigsaw Killer, a new game appears to be taking place and the bodies definitely match John Kramer’s MO. Is he somehow killing from beyond the grave?
We’re surely long past the stage at which we believe it when horror movies declare themselves to be “the final chapter” of their respective franchises. It was something of a surprise, though, when it was announced that we’d be getting a new movie in the Saw series – seven years after the seventh film declared itself to be The Final Chapter. Horror has long moved on from the torture porn world that Saw ruled over and has indeed fallen in and out of love with found footage since then, as well as developing a retro flirtation with haunted houses and things that go bump in the night. It’s into that world that Jigsaw arrives, feeling oddly flat and incredibly out of its depth.
The saddest thing about Jigsaw is that it has completely lost its teeth. Its gore feels artificial and soulless, with everything that was grotesque and horrible about the past entries now feeling as passé as gallons of CGI viscera can possibly feel. The plot is standard Saw fare, with a detective (Callum Keith Rennie) investigating what seems to be an ongoing “game” that is leaving behind a string of dead bodies eerily reminiscent of the crimes perpetrated by John Kramer (Tobin Bell) – despite his death a decade prior.
Nothing about Jigsaw is at all surprising. Presented with a chance to do something different with the franchise formula and perhaps even explore what was wrong about the more generic previous movies, the Spierig brothers have instead opted to simply play by the same old rules. Even the obligatory plot twists, revealed in the expected climactic montage, will be obvious to anyone with even a passing familiarity with the machinations of the previous films. It’s sad to see that the passage of time has taught studio bosses nothing about what led to the movies’ diminishing returns.
There is a brief spark of life to be found when Tobin Bell makes his cameo appearance and there will always be an undeniable frisson to hearing his iconic voice crackle through a tape recorder. Unfortunately, that’s about the only flicker of intrigue in the entire movie, which otherwise limps through decidedly drab material about an online cabal of Jigsaw admirers and the prospect of yet more crooked law enforcers. Even the signature traps, which have always been feats of grim imagination, here feel like they’ve all been seen before and become less exciting with every evisceration.
It’s genuinely miserable that the movie sees no issue with trudging slowly in the footsteps of the films that have come before it. Horror is currently in the midst of a real purple patch, with movies like The Babadook, It Follows and Get Out showcasing just how effective scary movie tricks can be. There’s no such thematic depth or big screen style in Jigsaw, which is going through its sadistic motions without even a hint of the self-awareness that could’ve made it work. Saw one; Saw ’em all.
Pop or Poop?
Despite seven years of time in the wilderness, the Saw franchise has failed to concoct something good for its big return in Jigsaw. In fact, everything is exactly the same as it was before. The twists are straight from the Saw playbook and the traps don’t have the same macabre ingenuity that at least made them interesting back in the old days.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.