By Dave Hastings
It’s been a while since we’ve been dealt a cruel game under the guise of twisted salvation dictated to us, the audience and the characters within the SAW franchise, by everyone’s pig-masked psycho, and therein lies the strength and yet weakness of the latest chapter in the original modern torture porn series, now resurrected under the title JIGSAW.
Plot wise, it has been a few years since Tobin Bell’s Jigsaw killer saw off (see what I did there, huh), his last victim in an ever twisting narrative that span across the previous 7 instalments, so when more bodies start appearing, and DNA blood samples from the scenes are found to come from the much believed deceased John Kramer, the Police are completely baffled, and always seem one step behind as a new game begins, with a new set of victims.
Jigsaw feels like a soft reboot (akin to the much more superior Curse of Chucky), but still uses all the elements that proved popular beforehand with fans to bring about the new twists and turns to these proceedings.
The traps are there (although increased CGI seems to have trickled into a few scenes and become more notable), while Billy the Puppet returns and Tobin Bell reigns over proceedings in a somewhat spiritual sense like in previous films, providing fleeting but memorable appearances.
The problem is, while the passage of time has clearly benefited the film in some respects (absence makes the heart grow fonder…and bloodier!), the makers have also relied on this too much in some regards, to try and be seemingly clever still, imagining we’ve all forgotten the tricks they’ve played on us before.
One scene in particular, which is meant to be the first big reveal during the final act was played out in a wonderful way and directed with good energy, but immediately I clicked what was going on as I immediately recalled the events of one of the later sequels (I’m not going to mention which one, so don’t worry), and this renders the later reveals void as a sense of familairity echoes all through each then, which douses the ending’s power.
However, performance wise, things are solid here, with each cast member enjoying the usual who-dunnit opportunities they’ve been given to toy with, while cinematography mixes the usual grime look synonymous with the franchise mis-en-scene accompanied by those usual fast flashy edits/cuts needed when plot points unfold in spectacular fashion.
JIGSAW is back, JIGSAW is fun, and while he hasn’t claimed back October completely unlike previous years, the game is far from over it seems.