Review: ‘Jigsaw’

¬† ¬†¬† It is a generally accepted rule of thumb that franchise horror starts to see diminishing returns with every new entry in the series. ¬†Saw is one of those franchises for me.¬† This¬† series has been labelled as one of the gateway films for torture porn, and I don’t really agree with that for the first film. ¬†Saw II¬†and on, though?¬† Absolutely.¬† What I disagree with for the later entries is that there is always the final person that we focus on, meaning that we have a pretty good idea of who isn’t going to make it.¬† We end up disinterested in those people’s stories, and are pretty much waiting it out to see what creative ways they get sliced and diced in.¬† That is pretty much the definition of torture porn.

     But I digress.

¬† ¬†¬† I gave up on¬†Saw¬†about¬†Saw IV. ¬†The traps were cool, sure, but they all became a little repetitive.¬† There was always a little something to surprise you in there, and usually it worked, but it wasn’t enough to keep me interested in sitting and watching.¬† I stopped checking them out in the theaters, waiting for on demand or streaming.¬† It was kind of a relief when The Final Chapter, was released.

      It was a hot mess

    So when Jigsaw, an unexpected new addition to the franchise, started being advertised, my initial response should have been the eyeroll to end all eyerolls. But, surprisingly, I was intrigued.  It almost felt like a chance to breath a bit of life back into the series.  Sort of a finale do-over.

¬† ¬†¬† And you know what?¬† It wasn’t half bad.¬† The traps were ingenious, and the gore level was toned WAAAYYYY down.¬† Obviously, it was still there, but nowhere near as over the top unnecessary as some of its predecessors (I’m looking at you, acid needle injection in¬†Saw VI).¬† The characters felt a little more likable, and the dialogue was pretty good.¬† It felt like a good mix of black humour and survival conversation that people trapped together would have.

¬† ¬†¬† The problem?¬† Jigsaw doesn’t have any original tricks.¬† It plays with time, just like the previous ones.¬† It has a shady cop, just like the previous ones.¬† If you don’t see someone die in a Saw movie, it’s pretty much a given that they aren’t dead.¬† I was entertained for an hour and a half, sure, but I was also able to guess every “twist” that came my way.¬† In that sense, it felt like an entry that the audiences didn’t need to further their enjoyment of the franchise.

¬† ¬†¬† The thing that has kept the Saw franchise going as long as it has is definitely Jigsaw himself, Tobin Bell.¬† Bell has turned a rarely-seen-on-screen character into an icon.¬† He is engrained in our minds even though the films spend the bulk of it on the people trying to escape.¬† His performance here at the end is stellar, as always.¬† He is the one consistent piece that the audience can always count on.¬† He’s the reason that people still check it out.

¬† ¬†¬† I read recently that there is a planned sequel to¬†Jigsaw, which will be the ninth.¬† My hope for it is that it can really return to its roots, and try to surprise its audience again.¬† Nothing will ever touch the original¬†Saw, but that isn’t really a sequel’s intent.¬† They try to capture what it was that audiences liked about it, and try to replicate it in a new story.¬† Even though Jigsaw was predictable, it gives the audience a Saw movie that is true to the formula, and the spirit of the original.¬† Eight sequels in, is that really so terrible?¬† If you’re a Saw fan and looking to be entertained, Jigsaw is an entertaining 90 minutes.

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