By: Reel 127 (Six Pack) –
“If it’s Halloween, it must be Saw.” Oh how this franchise has returned with a vengeance. Saw had ended with its seventh movie, Saw 3D or Saw the Final Chapter or “Saw: What is Dead May Never Die.” The franchise had stopped being successful despite its incredibly low budgets. The Paranormal Activity franchise had become the films that everyone saw on Halloween, but now Paranormal Activity has ended. Jigsaw has risen to reclaim the throne of the Halloween franchise king.
There are no more Halloween, Friday the 13th, or
Nightmare on Elm Streets left. This is the best we get.
Jigsaw takes place ten years after the death of John Kramer, the Jigsaw killer (so ten years after Saw 3 and 4 for those of you who try to follow the continuity). A game has started and now five people are fighting for their lives to survive the sadistic killer’s games. At the same time, police are puzzled by how a dead man has come back as the evidence shows Jigsaw is still alive.
I first got into the Saw films in middle school. The perfect time, too- being an edgy teenager really made me want to watch the series. Now as I look back all I can see is a series willing to compromise its own continuity and logic for the sake of making endings that will have the audience go “Damn!” I am going to put a huge spoiler warning up now. Skip to the verdict if you want to avoid them.
Abandon hope, all who enter.
This felt like a walk down memory lane. The scene where we see the collection of old traps… was a terrible scene. But! It was great to see all the things that made the franchise memorable back when there was anything worth remembering about it.
Couldn’t help but notice this monstrosity was left out.
The second to last trap was the only moment I genuinely enjoyed. The final two survivors meet face to face with Jigsaw and are chained to the wall, a callback to the original Saw. The game appears to be set up where one must shoot the other. The female lead, Anna, who we have more or less been rooting for up until now, gets the gun and shoots. We see her refusal to learn the lesson Jigsaw was trying to teach, and in doing so she kills herself and destroys the two keys hidden in the shotgun shell. It was the only time I felt enjoyment that wasn’t sarcasm or laughter at absurdity.
Get ready for the shit list. The reason the very first Saw film worked was because it played with audience’s minds as opposed to being a gore fest like every single film after it. Those who died in their traps were only given short recaps of their demise and the more drawn out scenes (Reverse Bear Trap and bathroom trap) were longer because of the characters trying and mostly succeeding in surviving. It was showing how far someone would go to survive, even if they were beginning to feel complacent in their lives. The horror came from making the audience think from the characters’ perspectives. By the second film this was all thrown out in favor of showing as many people dying in as gruesome of ways as possible. Jigsaw continues this tradition of sacrificing complexity for the sake of making more torture porn for the teenage masses.
Why make people question their own morals
when you can have awesome death scenes, amiright!?
As the bloodiness rose, so did the ridiculousness. The first Saw worked because it was believable that a vigilante serial killer could do something like Jigsaw in real life. But as the traps became more and more complex that was quickly lost. Heck, one of the traps in the first film was just a maze of razor wires. Any serial killer could put something like that together. At the very least, the complexity of the traps only increased the longer it went. As if Jigsaw felt he needed to one up himself with each new game he made. Which makes the traps in Jigsaw much more annoying. We find out at the end that the game with the five people took place long before John Kramer ever died. It even took place before the first movie! Meaning all the complex ridiculous traps were made back when Jigsaw was still keeping his operation small and simple. Just another time the Saw franchise has pissed on its own continuity.
Jigsaw fails even if you try to look at it as a stand-alone movie. Instead of taking after its predecessors by starting with a slow and dark scene to establish the mood, we immediately begin with a chase scene. There’s nothing wrong with starting differently, but it sets a tone of “don’t take this very seriously” while trying its best to scare people with unbelievable set-ups. You can’t have a movie that is scary that won’t even try to hold some suspension of disbelief!
Nothing scream realistic like a trap
made of lasers that cut your head open.
As much as this film tried its best to not call back to the original films (Jigsaw is the only character to return from the original), it can’t help but copy all the good and bad of the originals. We continue to argue Jigsaw’s morals as this time his victims all have done something that caused others to die. Originally he chose his victims because they didn’t appreciate life and even wished to be dead, then he gave them the choice to live or die. But by Saw II it had basically become anyone he had a grudge against. Jigsaw even continues with Jigsaw being an omniscient god who knows and sees all. One of the traps in Jigsaw revolves around how much change a woman stole from a purse. How the fuck could he have found that out?
For being an all knowing god
he sure as hell didn’t know when he was going to die.
God bless Tobin Bell! This man has been doing these films for over a decade now and if it weren’t for him this franchise would have died long ago. Now that we have surpassed the number of movies he has been alive for they will find any excuse to have him show up in a flashback. I remember in an interview a long time ago, a producer said that for Jigsaw’s part they write “insert Tobin Bell dialogue” in the script. Bell is able to give such presence in every scene he is in that it doesn’t matter what is happening or even what he is doing. That couldn’t be truer with his one scene in Jigsaw.
Above: The only reason anyone buys a ticket to these movies.
Jigsaw gives a monologue about the final two victims needing to learn their lessons. All while he takes apart a box with several saw blades in it. When he finishes taking apart the saw box he gets out a shotgun for the final game. There was no fucking purpose to him having the box of saws other than to be menacing. He even takes it out of the room when he leaves. Bell’s performance in Saw will always be remembered despite how stupid these movies are.
That final twist. That final fucking twist was the final thing this movie needed to promise that the Saw franchise can never truly die. This series will go on for decades and decades like many horror franchises before it.
A quick recap of the times they used the “secretly helping Jigsaw twist”:
- In Saw II, it turns out Amanda had been working with Jigsaw and is his apprentice.
- In Saw IV, it turns out Detective Hoffman has been working with Jigsaw since before the first Saw film!
- In Saw 3D, it turns out Dr. Gordon, the guy who most assumed bled out after cutting off his leg, has been secretly working with Jigsaw since the end of Saw!
- In Jigsaw, it turns out this guy Logan, who just got introduced in this movie, has been working with Jigsaw since the very, very beginning. Despite him never being mentioned previously and the fact his presence would have drastically changed the dynamic of the original franchise. In fact, the only reason Logan is alive is because Jigsaw does something he has literally never done. Save someone from the middle of a game. So in pulling this twist for the fourth time they managed to take a shit on Jigsaw’s entire character.
As long as the Saw franchise keeps copping out with a new “Jigsaw,” while using flashbacks to force in Tobin Bell, they can keep this franchise going on forever. They will just keep breaking continuity with each new movie they make.
If you have reached a loving, yet hateful relationship with the Saw franchise then you will love Jigsaw. It was a nostalgic trip of unintentional comedy not worth missing by fans. For those who have never gotten into the Saw films, don’t start with Jigsaw. I can only advise watching this once you suffer through the first seven movies.
“What is dead may never die,
but grows harder and stronger.”
Jigsaw (2017) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time someone meets a bloody end.
Take a Drink: every time there is a “trap” shown and/ or explained.
Take a Drink: every time there is a reference to the original Saw series.
Take a Drink: every time you can hear the Saw theme play.
Do a Shot: for the opening remix version of the theme.
Take a Drink: every time the iconic “Live or Die” line is uttered.
Take a Drink: every time you can easily discover a continuity mistake/issue.
Do a Shot: when Tobin Bell finally shows up.
Finish Your Drink: as that batshit explanation of an ending plays on through.