Movie Review: Jigsaw
by Jason Koenigsberg
Hungry for a good horror movie this Halloween weekend? Well, unless you have a hankering for torture porn or feel nostalgic for the Saw series, Jigsaw will not satisfy your hunger. The sad dearth of quality horror films this October ends with a whimper as the final weekend brings about the return of Tobin Bell as the Jigsaw killer, trying to reignite the dormant franchise. The first Saw (2004) was a true horror phenomenon of the 21st Century, the most successful horror franchise of its decade, and also a great old-fashioned morality play. The sequels mostly sucked as nothing more than sick experiments of showing graphic violence in twisted but creative ways. Eventually the whole Saw M.O. wore out its welcome as they made a new Saw movie every Halloween. Once that formula became stale and not as profitable Lionsgate stopped. But like most horror franchises eventually time passes and people long for more. Sadly, Jigsaw will only appease the most loyal fans of this melancholy horror series.
It opens up with blades in a circular pattern and a flashing red light behind it, The camera pans back to reveal what the audience was looking at and then they are thrown right into the action with about a dozen police officers after one man. Very early on they showcase the operatic Saw theme that they have used in all the films and most of the trailers. Eventually after an opening scene that felt more like it belongs in an action picture than a horror film the audience gets some exposition and Jigsaw turns into more of the same. The next 90 minutes are people screaming trying to escape a bloody demise from very elaborate and intricate boobytraps.
Jigsaw does provide horror fans with a slightly refreshing change of pace with a lot of the terror taking place during the daytime. This made it feel reminiscent of some of the scary moments from Tobe Hooper’s original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) or more recently last years Don’t Breathe (2016) which is destined to become a Halloween mainstay.
The rest of Jigsaw picks up where the other sequels left off. Beyond just grotesque and disgusting bloody images, the audience is treated to pretty pathetic acting. It does not help that this was a bargain bin script that felt like it was written by students fresh out of film school, not even Brando in his prime would have been able to sell these lines. The script and the actors are just there to take up time and space between the next inventive set piece that will end in blood-soaked carnage. So these actors are not meant to create characters the audience should care about other than Tobin Bell as the title character. Also, like most of the previous Saw movies, Jigsaw is not very scary, just gross.
There is sufficient gore to appease the most ardent Saw enthusiasts. This is not the bloodiest of the Saw movies, but those hoping for a good dose of gore should be content. Plus there are images and names flashed and mentioned in Jigsaw that fans of the series can geek out over since it has been quite a few years since this franchise had a new movie. Other than that, there is not much to say about Jigsaw. If you want more of the same from your Saw movies, then go ahead and enjoy your bloodbath, otherwise you will not be missing much if you skip it.
The original Saw is still a very good horror film on its own. Nobody knew this low budget film would spawn an entire eight picture franchise. I think this theme song helped. Game Over!