Revisiting Jigsaw

Following the epic finale to the series in 2010, there were no longer new Saw movies to enjoy every year. Then, in 2017 Jigsaw was unleashed upon the world. Is it any good? Keep reading for my take on Jigsaw.

Directed by the Spierig Brothers, who I’ve never heard of and haven’t done much since, Jigsaw seems to serve two purposes: operate as a soft reboot for the franchise and expand on the lore already established in the films that precede it. Jigsaw does a decent job with both; however, it’s my least favorite sequel of all of the Saw movies.

This film has a slick look to it, rather than the gritty, raw aesthetic of previous entries. While I understand that this was done intentionally as a way to modernize Saw for a new audience, it made me miss what came before it. Hannah Emily Anderson, who portrays Eleanor Bonneville, a passionate admirer of John “Jigsaw” Kramer’s work, is the most interesting and likeable character in this film. Her obsession with Kramer results in Eleanor building replicas of many of the most famous traps in the franchise. This reveal is one of the most intriguing moments in Jigsaw.

Aside from Eleanor, I didn’t care for anyone else in the movie, aside from Tobin Bell, of course, who is always delightful. I had no vested interest in any of the characters’ existence. Therefore, I didn’t care if they lived or if they died. Many slasher movies suffer from this. In the beginning, one of the characters says, “No, that’s not creepy at all.” This line is meant to get a chuckle out of fans, but all it did was make me groan because it made me take the situation, and the film, less seriously. Like in pro wrestling, the idea is to provide fans with a story that is so compelling we willingly suspend our disbelief and get lost in the artistic creation before us. Rather than provide meaningful character development, the writers threw a one-liner at us that ran contrary to the the tone and intelligence for which the Saw films are known.

Charlie Clouser does a masterful job with the score of this movie, as he always does. Eight movies in, he somehow continues to innovate and reinvent the aural landscape of these films, and he does the same here. The iconic Zepp theme is present, yet all of the music has a fresh, modern sound to it.

Jigsaw, as with all of the Saw movies, has twists at the end. They are decent, but I wasn’t blown away. It’s revealed that we have yet another accomplice helping Jigsaw create his traps. This has been done to death, and this particular accomplice is the least likeable in the entire series, so I didn’t care when this moment was unveiled. These sorts of surprises need to take place across the span of multiple movies, not just one. Rushing it like this is precisely why it’s meaningless, not to mention chronologically confusing. Perhaps, the most intriguing part of Jigsaw is trying to figure out how John Kramer cold possibly still be alive and playing his games, when he’s supposed to have long been dead. The payoff is mediocre, at best, resulting in a storyline that feels more shallow and superfluous than any other entry in the Saw franchise.

Jigsaw isn’t very good. It’s a mindless piece of horror cinema that is slickly produced but lacks any heart and soul. If it didn’t have John Kramer in it, Jigsaw would be even worse. Tobin Bell is the saving grace in this unnecessary sequel that failed to reinvigorate the franchise in a meaningful or substantive way. This is unfortunate because it took nearly a decade for it to come out. Game over, indeed.

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