Review – Jigsaw

starstarblankblank

After seven straight years of a Saw movie coming out every year, and then another seven years of no Saw movies coming out at all, we’ve finally gotten another movie in the franchise, here to make a liar out of the title of the last movie, Saw: The Final Chapter.

Jigsaw is in some ways positioning itself as a continuation of the Saw franchise but also as a soft reboot of the series, though it loses interest in the “soft reboot” aspect pretty quickly. Make no mistake about it, this is Saw VIII, picking the story back up almost a decade after the events of the first run of Saw movies. Jigsaw hits a lot of the tropes that we’ve seen seven times before, the elaborate games, the convoluted plot, the puppet, so if The Saw franchise was never really, for you, it’s not like this is the ideal point to give it another try. What you see is, more or less, what you get here, it’s a Saw movie through and through.

The players of the game this time around are a group of five people (soon to be four and so on) who find themselves trapped in a barn. The Jigsaw killer has deemed all of them to be liars in some way either lying to others or to themselves, and says that the only way out of the predicament they find themselves in is to confess to their sins. As the group of four (soon to be three and so on) try to make their way out of the barn, we also follow a group of police trying to figure out why victims of John Kramer, the real identity of The Jigsaw Killer, are popping up a decade after (spoiler for Saw III) Kramer died a very gruesome death at the hands of one of his previous victims.

It’s a little unfair to try and compare Jigsaw to other movies because based on the franchise alone you’ve probably already got a fairly good idea as to whether or not you’re going to enjoy the movie, but the bigger question is how does Jigsaw stack up to previous installments in the franchise. As the Saw series has progressed the traps have gotten bigger and more elaborate throughout the series, causing some to question just how Kramer was able to put together such over the top, elaborate contraptions by himself. The “soft reboot” aspect of this movie has allowed the trap elaborateness to calm down a little bit. There is still one overly convoluted trap that shows up, but most of the games played this time around are much more simpler. They fit better with the grimy homemade feel of the early movies. Without the pressure of outdoing a Saw movie that came out last year, Jigsaw is able to use the gore factor more sparingly than some of the later movies without losing the impact.

Surprisingly the Saw series has always been very careful keeping up with it’s own convoluted timeline. For a series that is famous for it’s focus on gratuitous gore, Saw as a franchise has always put a lot of focus on the overarching story it’s been telling. Unlike other long running horror movies where installments are quickly forgotten or declared non-canon if they don’t fit in, Saw fans are often rewarded for keeping up with the events of previous movies as the series progresses. Callbacks to previous movies are common viewers are expected to either keep up or get left behind. Jigsaw tries to continue that tradition, feeding into and expanding on the same story that was started almost a decade and a half ago. It doesn’t work out perfectly. There are some things that don’t quite line up with the previous run of movies. Part of that may be that the storyline has finally become so complicated that some parts had to be dropped. It may also just be that a ten year break in movies means that the storyline won’t quite shake out perfectly. But Jigsaw does an admirable job trying to make sure that it fits in as the eighth movie in a series just as much as the first movie in a new, rebooted series.

Obviously, because this is still a Saw movie, the whole movie leads up to a big twist at the end. There is a lot to be discussed about the twist which we won’t do here since that clearly leads into massive spoiler territory, but it’s safe to say that your reactions to the twist will have some impact on how you feel about the movie as a whole.

Ultimately Jigsaw proves that while Saw isn’t as fresh of a franchise as it once was, it’s not completely lifeless. This movie serves as a safe reboot for the series that could serve as a launching pad for the 2.0 version of the franchise, or could just as easily serve as one final story before the Saw factory shuts down for good. But even with the problems with this particular movie, it hopefully turns out to be the former. The issues here could easily be the franchise working out the kinks, and, by the end,  it definitely earns another opportunity to keep the franchise going.

Tags: , , , , , ,