Back in 2004, Saw came out of nowhere with a micro-budget of $1.2 million dollars, and went on to gross over $100 million worldwide. This massively successful film went on to become a Halloween tradition, with a new installment coming out every year until 2010’s Saw 3D finally brought the series to a close…that is, until now.
Yes, seven years later the franchise is back from the dead with the latest installment, Jigsaw. Now, while Saw 3D was the series at its hokiest, Jigsaw is one of the best Saw films to date, bringing the franchise back to its mystery-thriller, gore-filled roots.
What works best about Jigsaw is that there’s been a hefty seven-year break since the last film, and it’s recognized within the movie that nobody has been playing any games for quite some time now. So while the first seven films did a good enough job of continuously tying themselves together with twists and turns that led into the next yearly installment, Jigsaw gets to start fresh.
Now, that’s not to say that too much has changed. No, like its predecessors, Jigsaw has two stories going simultaneously: one of which is the game being played, and the other involving the police officers and crew who are attempting to figure out what’s going on before it’s too late. So if you were a fan of the franchise before, you’ll know exactly what to expect; however, at the same time, if you thought the series began to get stale as the years went on and gave up on it, Jigsaw may be a good point to jump back on the trap-train and begin anew.
Without going into any major details or spoilers, I’ll say that the storyline involving the game this time around is captivatingly gruesome, with solid acting throughout. Most of the traps within aren’t overly complex; however, they deliver when it comes to creating tension and also put in plenty of moments where, as a viewer, you quickly ponder to yourself as to what you may do in that situation, all while never actually being taken out of the experience.
Now while the game tends to be the main event for fans of the franchise, there’s always the secondary storyline taking place outside of it, and for that we follow the paths of Detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie), his partner, Det. Keith Hunt (Clé Bennett), and forensic pathologists Logan Neslon (Matt Passmore) and Eleanor Bonneville (Hannah Emily Anderson).
They’re all brought into things when a body is discovered that looks to have died in a mysteriously brutal way. When they play a sound file found on a small USB drive that was pulled from within the remains they hear a familiar voice: that of John Kramer (Tobin Bell), the Jigsaw killer…someone who was thought to have been dead for the past decade.
As usual, the game side of the story gets to have most of the fun, as it’s so contained, while the investigation half of the film has a bit more work cut out for itself in order to keep things interesting. The acting on this front is on par with the other Saw films, as the detectives – as well as the forensic pathologists this time out – often come off as cliche characters in a movie over actually acting like detectives would in this sort of situation.
As a whole though, it never hinders the storytelling. Jigsaw still gives the viewer an intriguing mystery to solve, or at least follow, alongside the detectives. Sure there are eye-roll moments from time to time, and the investigation is incredibly self-contained for something as big as the possibility of Jigsaw returning, or a copycat being out on the loose; however, most of it is forgivable, as this is a torture-based horror flick that – fresh start or not – is still the eighth entry into a long-standing franchise.
So fans that have longed for the return of the Saw series, or wished it could have gone out on a higher note than it did, prepare to sit back and enjoy! Jigsaw is exactly what you’ve been waiting for: a fun, grotesque, deathtrap riddled rollercoaster ride. Game on!
Director: Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig
Writers: Pete Goldfinger, Josh Stolberg
Notable Cast: Matt Passmore, Callum Keith Rennie, Tobin Bell, Hannah Emily Anderson, Clé Bennett, Laura Vandervoort, Paul Braunstein, Mandela Van Peebles, Brittany Allen.
Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.