by Evan Fischer
The Saw franchise is a divisive one. The fans can’t decide which movies are worth watching, and the public often dismisses it based off the subject material. While most horror films often rely on cheap thrills and gruesome kills, the Saw franchise is a more story-focused series that follows a continuous plot. This is where Jigsaw separates itself from the rest of the series. While Jigsaw feels like a traditional Saw film, its new cast of characters and timeline change cut off most connection to the original series and make it feel like a tamer side of the same coin.
Sequel or reboot?
Although the first movie is recognized as an unexpected masterpiece, it is generally agreed that after the third movie the series took a turn for the dumb. With plot holes galore and a timeline that grew so convoluted it would put Christopher Nolan to shame, the series had become nearly inaccessible to newcomers. Luckily, Jigsaw remedies this problem by introducing a new cast of characters and only very loosely tying the plot to the originals. Neither a full reboot nor a sequel, Jigsaw strays away from the numbered series for good reason.
Does Jigsaw attempt to fill in the plot holes? Nope, and that’s perfect. While admittedly the film does try to connect to the originals a little bit too much, it is a blast from start to finish and one of the most entertaining movies of the season. Yet following the trend of the previous films, Jigsaw produces its own plot holes and begins to fall apart when analyzed too hard.
Plot and characters
A man running from the police ends up on a roof where he presses a switch, consequently activating “the game”. This is where Jigsaw begins along with the story of five seemingly unrelated hostages. The story, in true Saw fashion, is split into two different points of view: the traps and the detectives.
With the Jigsaw Killer dead for over a decade, confusion strikes when the traps begin again accompanied by tape recorders with his voice on them. A detective joins forces with a coroner to decipher where this game is taking place and how the victims of the game died. While the characters in these scenes are interesting and generally likable, their work feels fairly redundant as they analyze the bodies of the victims we actively see die. While it makes sense to add these scenes in the end, it doesn’t change the fact that they drag. Luckily the payoff for this plotline is worth it in the end as it comes to a thrilling conclusion.
While the police force works on finding the victims of the game, the victims themselves attempt to survive the tests set before them. Arguably the most interesting scenes in the film, the victims find themselves being dragged forward into a wall of spinning blades (Saws if you will) by a bucket on their heads. This scene brilliantly shows the personality of each of the characters through their interactions, and they develop throughout the film rather than just outright stating who they are from the get-go. While it is apparent that these characters are by no means perfect, they still come off as likable enough to root for in the end.
Often the first thing people think of when the series is mentioned, the traps are arguably what made the franchise so big in the first place, and unfortunately they have been made much easier to watch. As the titular Jigsaw Killer is known to do, a group of men and women are kidnapped and placed in a room together where they will inevitably have to mutilate themselves to escape.
The glaring issue regarding these traps is how tame they are compared to the rest of the series. The new traps feel much more consumer friendly than the visceral, gut-wrenching twists and breaks of the past films, opting to replace these with clean slices and internal brutality. Yet as tame as the traps are this time around, they are as creative as ever. Futuristic lasers and Mission Impossible-esque sequences make these traps some of the most memorable in the series.
Was it a story worth telling?
A very hesitant yes, because this is definitely a story worth setting up. With characters more interesting than many of the prequels and an open-ended finale, there is life in the series yet. Jigsaw cut out much of the ridiculous story that made the later films so goofy and adopted a fresh start which works both in and against its favor. Much of what made the past movies fun was piecing together the convoluted plot and looking for the inevitable plot twist. Unfortunately, a rehashed twist we have seen in the series before (many, many times as a matter of fact) and a fairly straightforward plot drag the film down. Overall, even though Jigsaw feels streamlined, the potential fresh take on the series is promising.
Featured image from INHDW
'Jigsaw' provides a satisfying entry point for newcomers to the series. While it doesn’t pack the same punch as the original regarding blood or plot, there is still plenty of fun to be found throughout for old and new fans alike.