The Jigsaw is back for one more game
If you play by the rules and ask for salvation you might have a chance at redemption.I remember going to see Saw at the cinema back in 2004. With its limited cast and low budget aesthetic it was something new and different that culminated in a plot twist no-one saw coming. Australian director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell started off this soon-to-be-future-franchise as a short which was swiftly promoted into their feature length debut. Realising that the formula of a self righteous punisher determined to make wrong doers realise the errors of their ways through various means of imaginative torture was a hit, five more films would eventually be released the last being Saw 3D: The Final Chapter back in 2010.Of course when they say Final what they mean is 'until enough time has passed that they can jumpstart the franchise train.' So, seven years later and with Halloween on the horizon we have another instalment in the Saw franchise: Jigsaw. There's a fresh new team behind the camera headed by Australian brothers Michael and Peter Spierig in the directors' chairs and Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger as writers. So given the amount of gore, guts and variations on the same storyline in the previous films, one might expect something new and exciting, perhaps a bit daring even? That’s what you would hope to expect anyway.
The film opens with a very underwhelming police car chase which in turn kicks off the dreaded game that we all came to see: somewhere a group of people are about to be made to face their deepest darkest secrets or else fall victim to some homemade mutilation device. As bodies start popping up in places they shouldn’t Detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) and Keith Hunt (Clé Bennett) start to investigate.
Halloran and Hunt play out like two complete opposites; Halloran acts like he has a chip on his shoulder and Hunt seems decisively much more by-the-book. Helping out the detectives are forensic autopsy technician Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore) as well as his slightly gothy and quirky assistant Eleanor Bonneville (Hannah Emily Anderson). With each mangled corpse comes a clue and it seems as though the presumed dead John Kramer has returned from the grave to enjoy one last sadistic game before he really hangs up his cloak.
A seven year gap wasn’t long enough to inject anything new into this franchise
Maybe I am desensitised when it comes to guts and gore (very little shocks me) but I couldn’t help feeling short changed when I left the cinema. If there is one thing you’ve come to rely on when it comes to a Saw film, it's that the story is going to be heavy on the torture porn. And let's face it, that’s why we go to see these films in the first place. It’s not for the outstanding acting or the excellent script - although some are well written with good twists and turns, granted - its for the outrageous deaths, the violence and the spattering of blood. Where there was once a gritty, gut wrenching feeling as limbs were torn off or characters fell into a pit of hypodermic needles we now have a fairly placid fun fair house of horrors that is over way to quickly.
It seems the seven year hiatus hasn’t reinvigorated the franchise at all. The writing is average and attempts to conceal the inevitable twist but those who are familiar with this type of film or fans of the franchise will probably have an idea of what’s going to happen before it does or at least have an inkling of the direction the film is going in. That said the actual details of the final reveal are quite clever - probably the film's strongest moment. The acting is what you’d expect; it gets the job done and even though in some places it felt stiff, as if they were reading directly off the page, it could have been a lot worse.
Even though Jigsaw doesn’t quite deliver on expectations it’s not entirely terrible. Old fans will get a kick out of seeing that creepy puppet and hearing its disturbing cackle once more while new fans might be inclined to revisit the older films to see how they used to be. Personally for a Halloween movie I’d rather watch an old classic, but seeing Jigsaw is not the worst way to spend an evening: it’s easy and mindless with some fairly tame gore that sees the return of one the most moralistic bad guys in cinema.
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