Time: 92 minutes
Age Rating: Torture & Sadistic Violence
Matt Passmore as Logan Nelson
Callum Keith Rennie as Detective Halloran
Clé Bennett as Detective Keith Hunt
Hannah Emily Anderson as Eleanor Bonneville
Director: Peter Spierig, Michael Spierig
The police are at a dead end when investigating numerous ghastly murders in the city that resembles the work of a serial killer who is known to be dead since ten years.
After the Saw movies concluded with the embarrassing Saw 3D: The Final Chapter, it seemed like that was it for the series. However, a Saw movie following on after that point was in development for some time, emerging as Jigsaw in 2017. With it being 7 years after the last film and seeming to have a fresh start without the convoluted storylines, Jigsaw might be what the years-dead franchise needed. It made for an enjoyable movie in the series, however manages to be a disappointment at the same time.
Overall, the writing isn’t that good, the biggest problem of the movie really is the script. Compared to the past Saw movies, the plot is mostly simple. There are 5 people stuck in a Jigsaw game, and there’s police trying to figure it out as they discover dead bodies along the way. This time however, Jigsaw is meant to be dead, yet there’s evidence that he’s potentially still alive, including John Kramer’s voice on the tapes. This does add an intriguing element to the plot at least. With the 5 people in the game, it’s just same old trap stuff that you’ve seen in the past movies. You do get the feeling that it is sort of aware of stuff from the past movies, however it also doesn’t go all the way with the self awareness. Some of the stuff with the traps are far fetched, as in Jigsaw (or whoever is behind the traps) is going off the assumption that characters do certain things. There’s specifically one moment where a character says something about their past and later on there’s a pre-recorded Jigsaw tape that mentions that what this character previously mentioned. The investigation from the police is also pretty typical of similar plotlines from previous Saw movies. With that said, the mystery of what’s going on was a little intriguing, as evidence seemed to indicate that it really was Jigsaw behind this.
The movie doesn’t really directly follow much from the last movie, don’t expect even references of Gordon, Hoffman, Amanda or Jill here (don’t expect Gordon to be the killer despite the ending of the last movie). In some ways, I can understand them abandoning stuff from the past movies, I don’t blame them especially after Saw 3D. With that said, it doesn’t really bring anything original to the table at the same time. It’s definitely not a reimagining of the series. Plotwise it does have more of the same story beats (the game and the cop side of it), and so it feels rather formulaic, generic and uninspired. Not that having similar plotlines is a bad thing, but they don’t even add their own unique spin on it. With that said, there are some decent aspects. The movie has some entertaining moments in both storylines, and the pacing was consistent if nothing else. Plotwise, the movie only gets really messy at the end when it has one of those famous Saw reveals. There is a certain point in the third act where you can probably figure out some aspects of the twist through process of elimination, however it’s not just that. I’ll do my best not to reveal much of the reveal. What I will say however is that it does to a degree mess with the timeline of the Saw movies and there are things that don’t make sense from character decisions to logistics and more. Not to mention that it does actually feel like multiple Saw twists put together. It’s not as undeserved as the Saw 3D ending reveal and there are aspects of it that I do like, but it does stick out to me as really not really working.
As far as acting goes, rather average and unmemorable for the most part. The characters are passable enough, some are better than others. The group of 5 going through the Jigsaw game aren’t among the worst actors in the series but again weren’t particularly memorable save for maybe a couple. On the procedural storyline, there’s a detective named Halloran played by Callum Keith Rennie, and there’s a forensic team with Logan Nelson played by Matt Passamore, and Hannah Emily Anderson as Eleanor Bonneville. Of the new characters, Eleanor was by far the most interesting because she is fascinated by Jigsaw. That’s something we haven’t seen before from a Saw character across all 8 movies, and I’m honestly surprised that we hadn’t seen someone like her appear in any of these stories before. Sadly she’s only really a supporting character and doesn’t really do a whole lot in the movie. As for Tobin Bell as Jigsaw, all I can say is that he has a part in this movie. I won’t elaborate on that, but I really liked those parts involving him and even 7 years after the last film still performs this iconic horror movie character perfectly.
The directors of Jigsaw are the Spierig Brothers (Peter and Michael), which was a big interest to me considering that they made Daybreakers and Predestination, both of which I really liked. Jigsaw is definitely a modern movie, and looks quite different from the past Saw movies. It doesn’t quite have the grimy look from the first 6 Saw movies but still is a good-looking movie (again looks better than Saw 3D). Most of the Jigsaw games have been held in bathrooms, houses, basements and warehouses, so I guess changing the setting to a farmhouse this time at least was something different. As to be expected from these movies, there are traps. The traps are pretty entertaining but looking at the traps in the series as a whole, most of these new ones are a little unmemorable. The one trap that was out of place was something involving laser cutters, and while a lot of the other Saw traps aren’t the most realistic, lasers seem to be a little out of place as it’s going into technology that doesn’t really exist. With those traps comes gore as to be expected. There’s a decent amount of gore but it’s unexpectedly a bit subdued. The gore itself is a mixture of practical and CGI, the CGI isn’t great but its at least better than 3D’s (not saying much). Charlie Clouser provides the score once again, and as usual his work adds a lot to the movie.
Jigsaw has some good parts to it for sure, it’s directed well, it’s entertaining and it’s definitely better than some of the worse sequels, certainly way better than Saw 3D. With that said, you do wonder what the point of the movie is. While it does remove some aspects to make itself stand out from the past movies, it also falls back on familiar territory, it doesn’t really add anything new, and doesn’t do enough to make itself its own thing. It’s looking even worse with Spiral coming out in 2021, intended to reenergise the franchise, and this time to be a much more effective soft reboot. I’m not expecting Spiral to even reference this movie. With all that said, if you like the Saw movies, Jigsaw is worth a watch.