Jigsaw review: The Saw franchise returns to try and rule Halloween once more with an eighth outing that ventures in a new direction.
Jigsaw review, Kat Hughes.
Thirteen years ago we were introduced to a little indie horror film called Saw. The movie, directed by James Wan and written by Leigh Whannell, would go on to inspire a horror movement and a film franchise that had a stranglehold on the Halloween box office for years. Then in 2009, just as Saw VI hit movie theatres, another indie horror, Paranormal Activity, came along and stole the Halloween crown. There was a seventh and supposed final outing for the franchise in 2010, but for the last seven years, Halloween has been without a Saw film [sob]. However, Jigsaw is now about to be unleashed, but are audiences still interested in the franchise?
Our narrative picks up ten years after the death of John Kramer (Tobin Bell) [so that’s ten years after the events of Saw III] as a series of bodies are discovered, all missing a jigsaw-shaped piece of flesh – the calling card of the Jigsaw killer. With Kramer having died years before, Detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) must work fast to find the copycat. Aided by Coroner’s Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore), and Eleanor Bonnerville (Hannah Emily Anderson), the trio start to dig deeper into the case, and as the evidence mounts up it starts to appear that it might not be a copycat after all… Elsewhere, a trap is set in motion, can the victims band together and survive, or will they be the latest causalities of Jigsaw?
There are some familiar faces making up the quintuplet of victims, with Laura Vandervoort heading up the group as Anna. Anna makes for a very interesting lead as, much like her fellow captives, there’s a lot more to her than meets the eye. Other group members include Mandela Van Peebles and Brittany Allen. It’s great to see Allen following up her amazing turn in It Stains the Sand Red with a starring role in a higher profile horror film.
With their previous films Daybreakers and Predestination having been firmly placed within the science-fiction genre, the Spierig Brothers are a slightly odd choice for directors. Given their roots, Jigsaw looks more visually polished and clean than what we’ve seen before. Saw films are usually a little bit gritty and grimy, with a sparing amount of light. This time around everything is sci-fi clinically clean, and there are actually moments set during daytime! They are handy with the gore, a key component to a film within the Saw franchise, and the gruesome deaths are both inventive and detailed – this might be one where it’s worth skipping the popcorn. Whilst there is a lot of injury detail (remember a good portion of our characters work in a morgue), the brothers thankfully don’t venture into Saw III territory. The third movie is well-known for being the most needlessly violent and blood-thirsty, to the point of it becoming a parody of what had gone before. Michael and Peter Spierig reign themselves in from this and have produced a well made solid Saw film.
The story isn’t quite as clever as it would like you to believe; many will get on with it just fine, but if you’re really into your Saw films, you might be able to sense where things are going at an early stage. That doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the movie though as, after seven years, it’s lovely being reunited with the series. It’s even more delightful to once more here Charlie Clouser’s score, we got actually chills hearing it on the big screen again. New audiences will manage fine; whilst having prior knowledge of previous events will help enrich the experience, those coming in cold should be able to pick up the story pretty easily.
Only time will tell whether audiences are still engaged with the brand, but having seen Jigsaw we can confirm that franchise fans will find a lot to entertain them. The latest film has everything we’ve come to expect from a Saw film – horrifying traps, generous gore; Billy the puppet, and John Kramer? Well now, that would be telling.
Jigsaw review by Kat Hughes, October 2017.
Jigsaw is screening in cinemas across the UK right now.