Dear oh dear, this does not end well. To clarify, I mean this threefold: the film has a craptacular ending, my inexplicably high (well, at least moderately-sized) hopes have been savaged worse than any of the on-screen victims, and this re-boot does nothing to assuage the ever-growing band of cynics who sneer that these Saw sequels have merely been vessels for greed. Jigsaw is bad, folks. It’s really, really bad.
Identical twin Aussie filmmakers Peter and Michael Spierig (Daybreakers, Predestination) have directed/vomited out this lemon, and the screenplay by Josh Stolberg (Good Luck Chuck [… sigh]) has blended seamlessly within such lowly surrounds (there are no “make lemonade” opportunities here, sadly).
Why is it so bad? Because the plot is paper thin, the characters are unevenly developed (and are horribly unlikeable people), and the “twists” are utter schlock. Yes, the latter, with an overall concept that has – despite dying in the third instalment of this series (11 years ago, mind you) – killer John Kramer (Tobin Bell) still imparting his tentacles into the tales and woes of others. The mental gymnastics, technicalities and cinema “tricks” that the Spierigs perform in their attempt to justify the character’s continued inclusion are exhausting, appalling and hilariously inept.
The story starts with a man, Edgar Munson (Josiah Black), trying to outrun the police whilst apparently following directions from Jigsaw. After a quarrel with detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie), we realise that Edgar has opted to survive at the expense of 5 other people. Cut to a room where 5 people are chained up, each of them sporting a large, Ned Kelly-esque metallic bucket on their heads. Jigsaw’s iconic voice can be heard, and he tells each of them that they’ll have to spill blood in order to survive this first room and ultimately confess to their darkest secrets in order to get out alive. The directive is issued and the chains start retracting, pulling the unwilling participants towards a wall full of buzzsaws, which have started up in deadly unison.
From here, the “game” sections plays out much like the previous installations, and this is where the film is at its strongest (but let’s not get carried away here). Jigsaw issues directives, drops subtle clues and has a blast torturing these people, who all behave like imbeciles instead of trying to adjust and survive, as is tradition. However, given that this is the 8th instalment of the series (gasp), there’s an element of well-worn familiarity here – not nostalgia, which means that the initial buzz of “wow, this is sick and twisted” wears off quicker than a can of Coke Zero.
Sure, there’s blood, violence, gore, clues and red herrings flying all over the place, but it’s all so formulaic and familiar – to the point of déjà vu – that it is hard to draw much from them in any constructive or significant way.
Without wishing to “spoil” the ending (can one spoil that which is already so rotten?), room has been left for at least a 9th film. Despite how bad the Saw franchise has been for some time, Jigsaw has already more than tripled its $10 million budget, which, unfortunately, is more than enough to justify yet another spin of this oh-so tired wheel. Make it stop.
THE REEL SCORE: 2/10