A new game begins! Though it’s really more like an expansion pack. Same rules, same feel, just a few new features.
Jigsaw picks up ten years after the seemingly endless death of John Kramer, the Jigsaw killer. A new group of people have been placed into a vindictive game in which they must survive a number of cruel trials in order to escape; a feat that most of the participants fail, with gruesome results.
Jigsaw is very much like Saw and its sequels and is entertaining and flawed in the same way that almost all previous instalments are. The dialogue is terrible, mixing cliché with the most outrageous redundancy. “You’ve got to make a choice!” a character shouts, “But I might make the wrong one!” the other replies. It’s almost as if the audio description for the visually impaired had been written into the script.
The core entertainment value of Saw has always been a controversial one. People are placed into gruesome traps and must do horrible things to escape. The thrill, I maintain, is not sadistic but masochistic. The audience cringed and winced as they forced themselves to imagine having to cut their skin on a buzz saw to save their lives. It’s a visceral game of “would you rather” and Jigsaw certainly provides ample opportunity for discomfort.
One thing I definitely appreciated about the new Saw is that the editing is considerably more subdued than its predecessors. Gone are the flash cuts and sped up footage of the original run. Instead some of the more upsetting and provocative moments are actually allowed to play out in full. A sequence of a man’s risking life and literal limb as he reaches for a tape recorder on the other side of a nasty wire trap plays out excruciatingly slowly.
True fans will be reassured that the endlessly convoluted timeline of the Saw movies is tangled yet further. I will however say that the movie does build a good sense of mystery leading up to its third act reveal and the twist itself is ambitious if not hilariously contrived. It manages that audacious feat of presenting you with incredible obvious clues and yet actually managing to surprise you with the reveal. However you may struggle to be invested.
Jigsaw is fundamentally a Saw movie. The formula may have gained a new sheen but it remains fundamentally unchanged. There are gruesome traps, terrible dialogue and a very convoluted plot. This isn’t John Kramer’s New Nightmare. It doesn’t bring any form of genre savvy-ness or radical approach to revolutionise old ideas. It is, however, just as campy and enjoyable as the Saw sequels of yore. It definitely achieves what it set out to do, it’s just a shame it didn’t have any loftier ambitions than being Saw 8.
2.5 / 5
Paul Salt it the co-host of One Good Thing.