Movie Review: ‘Jigsaw’ Slices Right Back Into the Saw Franchise
By the end of Jigsaw, a man’s head is split open like a banana, a twisted narrative has been explained away in impossibly illogical fashion, and after seven long years everything feels right in the Saw franchise.
Jigsaw (played by Tobin Bell) has been dead ever since the events of Saw III, and unlike other supernatural horror franchise villains this all-too-human baddie fell victim to cancer. But he still went on to devise fiendish death traps for four more movies through the use of some creative editing and a wild timeline that involves all seven movies criss-crossing narratively rather than following a linear path.
That’s a theme that repeats itself in Jigsaw, the eighth film in the series and the first since 2010’s Saw 3D as producers dig deep into their wares to churn out something in time for Halloween after recent additions in the Amityville and Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchises failed to make an impact.
Jigsaw, perhaps, comes with a little higher pedigree than many of its predecessors, with a pair of talented directors at the helm. The Spierig Brothers, who previously made Predestination, Daybreakers, and Undead, lend the film a crisp, clean look that stands in contrast to some of the franchise’s gritty earlier movies.
But the narrative is as convoluted as ever. New viewers might think the franchise relies on scenes of torture and bloody death traps, but longtime fans know it’s the storyline that really gets sliced and diced.
This one features two parallel stories: while a quartet of morally questionable victims (Laura Vandervoort, Paul Braunstein, Mandela Van Peebles, and Brittany Allen) find themselves chained to Jigsaw’s latest death trap, a pair police investigators (Callum Keith Rennie and Clé Bennett) follow the trail of bodies left behind.
Somehow, a coroner (Matt Passmore) and his beautiful young assistant (Hannah Emily Anderson) get involved in the active investigation. By sheer coincidence, the assistant just happens to be a big Jigsaw fan who has built working models of all his classic death traps in a warehouse in her spare time.
But if only it were that simple; by the end, Jigsaw has become a feature-length version of a memorably edited scene from The Silence of the Lambs, with twists and turns that are meaningless to the characters in the film and included only to throw the audience off course.
The Saw films, and especially this latest one, aren’t so much horror movies but unusual, inverse revenge films that present to us a wrongdoer caught in a death trap and slowly reveal both the wrong they did and the torture they now receive.
The films specifically ask us: does this person deserve to die? And if so: how much do we want to see them suffer?
By number 8 in this series, you know what you’re getting into. Jigsaw slides right into the overall narrative despite a 7-year gap in the films, and it’s a little slicker and better put together than we might expect thanks to the filmmakers behind it.
But despite the convoluted storylines, there’s only one thing you need to ask yourself before watching these movies: do you want to see people, who may or may not deserve it, be tortured and killed in wildly gruesome fashion?