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New Release Review - JIGSAW

jigsaw movie review
Serial killer John Kramer, aka Jigsaw, appears to be wreaking havoc from beyond the grave.







Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig

Starring: Matt Passmore, Tobin Bell, Callum Keith Rennie, Laura Vandervoort, Hannah Emily Anderson

jigsaw movie poster


James Wan's Saw came out a time (2004) when the horror genre was going through a rough patch. The mainstream boost the genre had gotten in the late '90s from Wes Craven's Scream had long faded, and the sub-genre that would come to be reductively labelled 'torture porn' was still a year away. In truth, the original Saw was more of a thriller than a horror movie, and a quite well constructed and certainly original example of the form. It also made over $100 million from a budget of just over $1 million, so sequels were as inevitable as death and taxes.

Few movies' reputations have been damaged by their subsequent sequels quite like Wan's however. Mention the Saw franchise now and most viewers will immediately think of the blood-soaked sequels rather than Wan's smart series opener. Beginning with 2005's Saw II, the series adopted a new format, part police procedural, part Cube style deadly obstacle course, as the franchise's antagonist, serial killer John Kramer (Tobin Bell), aka Jigsaw, adopted a deranged vigilante persona, abducting people who have gotten away with committing heinous acts and subjecting them to a series of trials, which result in them being offed one by one. Meanwhile, Kramer teases the investigating police officials with a series of grisly breadcrumbs.

jigsaw movie

That format continues with Jigsaw, the relatively belated eighth installment of a series that previously gave us a new sequel on an annual basis, usually around the Halloween weekend. The subtitle of the previous edition, 2010's Saw 3D, promised us 'The Final Chapter', but with Hollywood intent on reviving every existing, previously successful property, here we go again.

Directed by the Aussie duo The Spierig Brothers, Jigsaw opens in recognisable fashion, with five abductees waking up attached to long chains, steel buckets over their heads, in a strange room. The familiar voice of Kramer (who should be dead at this point) comes over an intercom to inform them that he requires an offering of blood from each of his captives, and then a motor begins to pull the individuals towards a series of spinning blades embedded in the far walls. The game has begun once again.

jigsaw movie

If you've seen any previous Saw sequel, you'll know how this progresses, with Kramer forcing his prisoners to admit to past sins as, one by one, they get butchered by a series of complicated death devices. This installment is far tamer than what we've previously been subjected to. We see a lot of disfigured corpses on morgue tables, but the actual kills, which are presumably the reason any viewers will seeks this out, are surprisingly tame, and there's little here you won't see on network TV in the modern era.

The procedural element of this one involves the sinister detective Halloran (the always sinister Callum Keith Rennie) attempting to piece together the clues and corpses left around the city by what appears to be a back from the grave Kramer. Suspicion falls on Eleanor (Hannah Emily Anderson), an assistant at the city morgue who seems to have an unhealthy obsession with the work of Kramer.

jigsaw movie

Jigsaw plays like someone loosely edited together an episode of CSI and a Japanese game show, but it's a lot less interesting than that combination might sound. Yet for all my boredom and disinterest with this film, I'm forced to admit that its script, by genre veteran Josh Stolberg and the wonderfully named Peter Goldfinger, is well constructed by modern Hollywood standards, with a late twist that deserves a quiet clap or two from the darkness of the auditorium.

If you're still on board with the Saw saga at this late stage then you'll no doubt find this one a mildly satisfying watch (though your bloodlust will go largely unsated) and leave the cinema whistling Charlie Clouser's iconic theme tune. If, like me, you bailed out after the second installment, Jigsaw certainly isn't going to tempt you back into the fold.

Jigsaw is in UK/ROI cinemas now.



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