Its back! After a good few years hiatus the trap-ladened horror phenomenon returns in a film titled after the man himself: ‘Jigsaw’.
As we are always honest on BTG I will ‘fess up and state that I put off watching this movie because, quite frankly, I thought it was going to be pretty poor. I wouldn’t describe myself as a mega fan of the franchise, although admittedly there are more good entries than rubbish ones, but after 7 films annually released I felt its already limited concept had run its course.
Still, holidays beckoned and so I picked up a copy, and, well, here we are.
The plot opens (and indeed unfurls) in a familiar vein as previous entries. 5 confused ‘participants’ chained to a machine, steel buckets on their heads panicked and disorientated. As they come to, the hauntingly familiar voice comes over the intercom “want to play a game?” he announces as a wall of circular saws begin to spin up to speed. With a tribute of blood, the games begin. As the participants move through the grizzly funhouse the subplot follows the confused and dismayed police as they try to discern whether the bodies that keep appearing are the handywork of a copy-cat or Jigsaw himself, back from the dead.
Whilst depth isn’t something the franchise is known for, I felt this movie did well to keep the intrigue going without things becoming too convoluted, and the ending, albeit contrived, was both self-contained, and satisfying.
Given the gap, and the changing climate of modern horror movies, you could be forgiven for thinking that the team behind the film might be introducing a change of pace or direction in the latest entry, but ultimately, no. Same style, same(ish) story lines. Watching ‘Jigsaw’ I was happy to sit in familiar territory, balanced nicely with a spattering of new characters.
Like with the better of the films in the main ‘Saw’ franchise, the films simple back and forth between those stuck in the traps and the game and the police investigators keeps good pace, and keeps you keen. Speaking of traps. Well, I doubt anyone is going to be disappointed. The gore is oddly balanced in this entry, bloody in parts, but most of the truly grim stuff is shown either as aftermath shots or shown with quick cuts. Its still satisfying however, and in all honesty, I’ve never considered the ‘Saw’ franchise anything but mainstream, so from that perspective it still packs a punch. The traps are feasible – mechanically anyhow, and diverse. Fans of the franchise will see some nods to earlier traps in their design, and I think the newer ones including one bizarre contraption which turns characters into human slinkys and the show stopping laser neck-brace will do enough to convince naysayers that there is still life left in the franchise yet.. If I had to pick one kill in particular I would say the films final shot is probably the grimmest and best of the series, and that’s saying something.
Overall, despite my reservations, I found myself enjoying ‘Jigsaw’ a whole lot. It didn’t reinvent anything in-particular, but for fans of the franchise already I suspect this will be a welcome entry. The plot gets a bit silly towards the end, perhaps just one red-herring to far, but all said and done it kept pace and brought the film to a nice conclusion. The traps and gore shots deliver as they should, again current fans will lap it up. Would the film be strong enough as a ‘first exposure’ to the franchise for newcomers? Probably not, this film is straight up ‘for the fans’.