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Film Review: JIGSAW

Courtesy of Lionsgate 


Every spooky season, we're granted to some type of macho horror film that is either a sequel nobody wanted, or a tireless cash bag filled with so much hooey, you can't stop rolling your eyes. "Jigsaw," not surprisingly, falls into both categories. A reboot of the longest running horror franchise of all time. The kicker here is: "Saw: The Final Chapter" wasn't released that long ago, and so a reboot doesn't seem necessary or, most importantly, warranted. Not only does it undermine the integrity of the entire series by asking us to forget everything that came before, it looks desperate on Lionsgate's part. And while the film itself does present some new and intriguing traps (those were the highlights of the previous films anyway), but the story more or less, feels like a retread than it's own thing. My favorite part about the "Saw" series, aside from those gruesome and elaborate schemes, was the redemptive, and in a weird way, mercy that Jigsaw showed his victims. Because, most of the time, the people that found themselves in his "game" deserved to be there for how they acted in society. And with the original "Saw" flicks, grossing upwards of $800 million bucks, and were made for almost nothing, I'm not surprised we're back. However, before you see "Jigsaw" I would challenge anyone to make a comprehensive flow chart of the series, and try to keep it all order. That's a real game. But for 90 minutes a new series of deadly activities takes place, as the film jumps back and forth between two different narrative arcs. A group of strangers locked inside a vault with buckets on their hands, chained by the neck to some contraption, and the detectives following a paper trail of breadcrumbs to a possible copycat Jigsaw killer. The characters names hardly matter as most of them are just human fodder, aside for maybe Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore) a coroner that's tasked with linking the causes of death to the victims that are showing up randomly around the city. Meanwhile our four strangers are being put through the ruins of torture, with the possibility of being buried alive, losing limbs, and being injected with poison. As usual, there are tapes that say "play me" scattered throughout this farmhouse looking setting, where the iconic puppet rides his bike and attempts to grant them life. "The choice is yours" is how the saying goes. For those new to the series, you might look at these strangers and feel sorry for them, but once you find out their past, as those familiar will know, they've done some nasty and heinous acts. It should be noted you don't really need to see the previous "Saw" films to understand this one, although it helps with the background. And then, like clockwork, the finale sets up some huge twist that feels inspired, but on the surface isn't all that grand. I think the writers take it's audience for granted, setting up cheese and hoping we bite. Perhaps newbies will be engulfed, but when earlier entries have presented worthwhile, and slightly believable, hooks before, after the ninth time (that's right NINE times) it becomes schmoozy, there's just no more shock value in these pictures, despite the creativity of the set pieces. If anyone get's credit for these films, it's the production designers. Tobin Bell does make an extended cameo (I know, this guy has more lives than Michael Myers - but with timeline and flashback manipulation - they always have a part for him in these movies). "Jigsaw" will likely win over those youngsters that couldn't bask in the glory of the previous entries. Ironically, the most scariest notion about "Jigsaw" is the elusive fact it's setting up another would be franchise, and we could be staring down the rabbit hole of another ten "Jigsaw" spinoffs. That's one game, I don't wanna play. C-

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