Believe it or not, I’ve seen every Saw movie made and have enjoyed more of them than I’ve hated. I liked this spinoff sequel, but it’s not exactly good. If you’ve seen one Saw movie you have seen them all. Police attempt to stop the “Jigsaw Killer” or his copycat, while a game goes on in which seemingly random people are tortured to teach each of them a lesson. The police are blundering buffoons and the characters are selfish morons who the killer, or killers, are playing the entire time. The movie ends with a nice twist that ties everything up in a neat bow. Jigsaw, the newest entry in the Saw series, sticks to its franchise formula to a tee.
For a movie series with such a fetish for elaborate traps, torture, and gore, there are little of these slasher staples in this iteration of Saw compared to the previous films. There isn’t much blood, and most of the traps are unimaginative. Which is disappointing since that’s probably what most of the movie’s audience came to see. The direction, acting, and writing are all abysmal, almost expectedly so, since the films’ scriptwriters admittedly stage their movie plots around the objective of placing characters into various agonizing traps. The aforementioned plot of this movie revolves around trying to find out if the original “Jigsaw Killer,” John Kramer, is still alive, or if his fiendish games are simply being reenacted by a copycat killer. Based on the prior narrative arc, Kramer is supposed to have been dead for ten years, with the audience having watched him die in Saw III. Despite this, actor Tobin Bell, who plays John Kramer, the series star and the original “Jigsaw Killer” has made an appearance in every Saw sequel due to twists, flashbacks, and narrative trickery. Jigsaw is no different. The film a safe, by the book, Saw movie.
Jigsaw features a whole new plot with entirely new characters except for Tobin Bell as John Kramer, a.k.a. the “Jigsaw Killer.” That’s fine, but what I want to know is what happened to Dr. Gordon? He was easily the best part of Saw: The Not So Final Chapter and Gordon’s decade-long plot twist was a gory cherry atop of the finished film. I had hoped that Dr. Gordon would at least make a cameo appearance, but he is not even mentioned once in the film. The new culprit is another one of Kramer’s secret apprentices, which makes you wonder how many followers Kramer had and how the hell he kept them a secret from one another for so long. We are left to conclude that Kramer’s not just a brilliant engineer and strategic master of deception, with impeccable timing and insight into human nature. He’s also some sort of wizard capable of keeping multiple overlapping swaths of his life a secret despite debilitating cancer.
END OF SPOILERS
Jigsaw is thus an odd amalgamation of what made fans enjoy the prior film franchise so much. This sequel has the least amount of gore since the film’s genesis, which might seem odd for a series that popularized the term “torture porn.” This movie has a ridiculous plot with an even more absurd twist at the end, and the story has to do backflips in order to make it work. In a gesture satisfying to some, Tobin Bell returns to play the eponymous killer. Still, the film is badly written, directed, and aside from Bell, poorly acted. But this is kind of par for the course for most Saw movies. Basically, if you liked the previous entries to the series, you’ll like this one. Otherwise, you can skip it.
TLDR: Jigsaw is an extremely convoluted movie that will be enjoyable to fans of the series but not anyone else. 2/5 Stars.