Jigsaw, directed by Michael and Peter Spierig and written by Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg. Imagine a guy walks up to you on the stre
Jigsaw, directed by Michael and Peter Spierig and written by Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg.
Imagine a guy walks up to you on the street, puts a knife to your gut and says “I’ve been watching you for a couple weeks, I don’t think you are living your life as well as I think you should” and then stabs you. That’s kind of how the Jigsaw killer operates. Directed by Michael and Peter Spierig and written by Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg, Jigsaw, the latest iteration of the Saw saga and eighth overall takes place ten years after the death of the titular character and seven years after the last installment in the series, the contradictorily named “Final Chapter”. The story picks up with a new game and a new set of detectives, investigating a string of murders by whom they believe to be a copycat of the infamous Jigsaw killer. While the investigation continues, in an unknown location, a new set of characters work their way out of a new set of morality based death games.
Saw, an institution in the annual Halloween spook-fest dating back to its initial release in 2004, is a horror classic directed by James Wan (The Conjuring, Insidious). Born out of its low budget and anti-slasher, slasher movie aesthetic, the film is simply presented while building a new kind of killer; one who builds Rube Goldberg-esque devices that force their participants to come to terms with and face ultimate truths in order to make them appreciate life to his standards, if they make it out at all. Abhorrent to unnecessary gore and instead creating a character based mystery framed like an episode of Law and Order, one half is detective drama and the other half courtroom sprawl. Instead of a gavel determining the verdict, it may be an actual hammer slamming down on your head. The film shifted the landscape of horror and seemed to be a light in the dark for an increasingly derivative genre. However, “you either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain,” and the series drastically devolved into the antithesis of its mission statement, becoming a platform for increasingly convoluted plot twists and over the top hyper gory deaths that kept fans coming back for six sequels just to see how outrageous it could get.
This new installment draws inspiration sporadically from all over the series, but mainly from Saw III. The writing dips from clever to annoying, yet overall predictable, negated by its impossibly convoluted plot twist ending. A number of tropes that recur throughout the series are followed; Tobin Bell coming back in flashbacks even though his character died in III, an almost Pepe Silvia tier storyboard relating everything back to its original theme and a twist involving Jigsaw having an apprentice. That specific trope has now reached six separate instances growing my suspicion that there is a Jigsaw Moral-Murder internship program. The games in the movie were not cool enough to stand up to the rest of the series. I don’t know if this can be attributed to a lack of creativity or budget but the prop design was lackluster. This was exponentially contrasted by a scene featuring a collection of previous designs showing the intricacies of the previous movies that left me with much to want.
The movie was a lot of fun to watch, but if you think about literally any of the major plot points for more than a second, you will realize how inherently dumb they are. A good mystery should always be a step ahead of the viewer, but it seems as though they are on the same page; like a kid who makes up a game and whenever he thinks that he’s going to lose, he changes the rules and plays it off as though that’s the way it’s always been. This creates bewildering revelations that make you wonder whether this film was written last minute on the car ride to the filming location. The story may as well be a 7-11 for how many conveniences it has in store. You are told that Jigsaw is an engineer but I didn’t know they taught how to literally see into the future at engineering school. Nearly all of the games rely on someone doing a very specific action in a very specific way. For instance; a guy starts a game by slamming a shovel into a door and then his very specific foot placement is caught by a wire. Did Jigsaw know that guy was going to step there? The movie is a textbook lesson on plot holes that should in no way be taken seriously.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked this movie a lot, it teeters on the edge of “so bad, it’s good” enough to provide entertainment from laughing at its shortcomings. This is a Twinkie movie. It feels good while you’re eating it, but it has no substance and leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you’re done with it. It wasn’t all terrible either, this is probably the 4th best in the series following Saw, VI and VII, it had some good gore and the performances were adequate, shown up by Tobin Bell, who has been carrying the series since ‘05. It also had some cool references and the ending reminded me of another movie late into a horror franchise, Final Destination 5. You don’t need to be a fan of the series to get it either, I brought along a friend who had never even seen a Saw movie and he had more fun than me, but it certainly helps to have a little knowledge beforehand. Overall, I think it’s the best horror offering out right now, if you haven’t seen It yet, that is. Or, you could see Boo 2! A Madea Halloween.
As an actual movie: 5/10
A minor gripe that annoyed me was the lack of a “Game Over” at the end, not major but still…