26th October 2017
Bodies are turning up around the city, each having met a uniquely gruesome demise. As the investigation proceeds, evidence points to one suspect: John Kramer, the man known as Jigsaw, who has been dead for ten years.
“This game is simple. The best ones are” Growls the voice of John Kramer, better known as the Jigsaw Killer, as two more of his victims are pitted against each other. It’s a sentiment which also sums up the eighth entry in the long-running franchise and while dubbing it ‘the best’ may be a stretch, it’s certainly one of the stronger installments by going back to basics.
As bodies begin to pile up around the city, Detective Halloran begins to make a chilling link – all the evidence seemingly points to the long deceased John Kramer. Is there a copycat at large, or has Kramer pulled the ultimate stunt and cheated death? Halloran, along with forensic pathologists Logan and Elanor, is running out of time to crack the case as five people are held captive inside of a run-down barn, with progressively sadistic traps around every corner for the unfortunate group. How many can be saved, and what will be left of them?
It’s been seven years since the last Saw entry, a franchise which admittedly became tiresome and repetitive and in need of reinvention. Unfortunately, Jigsaw doesn’t stray too far from the tried-and-tested method which made the series so popular, but it does streamline the experience by not getting too bogged down in pretty much anything other than watching utterly expendable people with shady histories struggle helplessly in progressively difficult traps.
Speaking of the traps, there’s nothing particularly standout or memorable here, certainly not to the extent of the Reverse Beartrap headgear or the Angel Trap, but there’s a few which induce more than a few winces – namely the Cycle Trap with its personal connection to the unlucky participant confined within. The heart of Jigsaw lies in its mystery, and I’ll happily admit it had me stumped for the most part. Its twists are satisfying if not completely implausible; although Saw was never a series known for its stringent consistencies.
Most interestingly though, through all the gore and nastiness, Jigsaw appears to lack the mean streak which was on display in previous entries. It’s a much more procedural affair, putting its dependence on the police investigation side of things, essentially making it an R-rated episode of CSI. This isn’t a criticism at all, and I enjoyed the fact that there wasn’t a bombardment of bloodsoaked bodyparts being sliced, diced and mangled in front of my eyes every few minutes.
Ultimately though, the niggling question I couldn’t shake off was: was Jigsaw really necessary? Sure, it’s a welcome sight to see Billy the Puppet again (although there wasn’t nearly enough of him), and the mystery is an intriguing one, but after seven years it would have been even more welcome to have seen some form of evolution from this franchise.
And with its ambiguous closing moments, it appears that Jigsaw still isn’t the final piece of the puzzle, but it’s probably about time to call time on assembly attempts.
Back to basics with simple but effective traps
Intriguing albeit implausible mystery
Still too samey after seven years away
No one to care about