Hot Take: Waiting to experience the Saw phenomenon on its 8th installment was not the best idea. I could have kept waiting.
I somehow managed to avoid seeing a Saw movie for 14 years. The first 7 installments of the franchise graced cinemas for 7 consecutive Halloweens from 2004 to 2010. As the franchise lost steam at the box office over the years, 2010’s Saw 3D wasn’t the least successful box office performer of the 7 films which must have given someone the idea that this franchise still had life. Then again, as Zoolander 2 proved, a franchise doesn’t need a pulse to get a sequel. Enter Jigsaw, the 2017 franchise entry looking to pump new blood into the franchise and give audiences schlocky, inventive mechanical traps and gory, over-the-top death scenes. If that’s what you’re into, Jigsaw might be a nice, breezy trip to the theater. However, if this isn’t your bag, Jigsaw can be torturous even at its incredibly brief 92 minutes of screen time.
Jigsaw kicks off as the police chase Edgar Munsen (Josiah Black) onto a rooftop where he grabs a triggering mechanism. During the stand-off, Munsen pulls the trigger spouting something about a game starting and need Detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) as police shoot the man. Once the trigger is pulled, the scene shifts to a room in a run-down barn with 5 people chained to a wall wearing metal buckets on their heads. The taped recording of John Kramer’s (Tobin Bell) explains the first part of the game to the participants and the latest installment of Jigsaw is officially underway. The first room these 5 experience, they are told to escape they must give a blood sacrifice and eventually confess their sins. As they are dragged by the chains around their neck to spinning buzzsaws, they figure out that to escape they must cut themselves on the saw blades. Eventually, 4 of the 5 escape to the next room and the mechanisms and room traps continue.
Sound compelling? There’s 4 more rooms, a convoluted subplot and some nostalgic look at Kramer’s fancy traps thanks to an obsession of the coroner’s assistant Eleanor Bonneville (Hannah Emily Anderson) who has a macabre personal museum dedicated to recreating the trap mechanisms of the Jigsaw Killer’s past. She reveals this to her co-worker, the coroner and one of the main characters of the film, Logan Nelson (Matthew Passmore) who is at the center of unraveling the mystery with the police as they try to debunk the possibility that Kramer is still alive.
Is Kramer still alive? You’ll have to put in the 92 minutes of time to find out for yourself. Is the franchise dead? If it isn’t, it’s definitely on life support as Jigsaw fails to do much more than deliver a nostalgic look back at an impressive box office phenomenon. As I’m not the target audience for this latest version, my opinion probably doesn’t matter much but this is hardly watchable even at its slight 92 minute run time. The plot is tired. Isn’t the serial killer with a morality code played out at this point? There’s a reason I avoided this franchise for 14 years and, at this point, I can only blame Movie Pass and this website for me ending up at the theater last night to partake in what is hopefully but likely not the final installment in the franchise.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Some Creative Traps
The traps set by the killer have some ingenuity behind them and eventually provide some pretty gruesome death scenes. (Is it a spoiler if I tell you at least 1 or 2 of the 5 people involved in the game die?)
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Putting the Serial Killer With a Morality Code Out to Pasture
When Dexter went off the air in September 2013, we should have seen the end of the serial killer who kills the guilty. I get that we have a penchant for vigilante justice but damn if it isn’t a played out plot device at this point.
- Gory… Not Scary
I know there’s a market for this but there’s nothing scary about Jigsaw and it has to rely on a body count and lots of bloodshed to get its horror monicker.