One of the 21st century's most profitable franchises, SAW returns to the big screen in Lionsgate's Jigsaw, the eighth film in the franchise. From 2004 to 2010, every October, horror fans packed movie theaters to check out the latest Saw film and John Kramer's exploits, better known as the Jigsaw killer.
The series supposedly came to an end with 2010's Saw: The Final Chapter, which provided closure to the series. However, given that film's box office take a sequel or reboot was bound to happen. As every horror fan knows, The Final Chapter subtitle never seems too sick. Directed by The Spierig Brothers with a script by Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger, Jigsaw is a decent but somewhat muddled return to the series.
Jigsaw opens up with a weak car chase sequence, which highlights the film's low budget. When police officer Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) arrives on the scene, he appears to be a top-notch cop who wants to solve the case. As 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.
The Saw films have always been about the victims who must repent for the sins. In the latest movie, the victims are taken off one by one in an excellent gruesome manner. Outside of Laura Vandervoort, the studio and the director make the wise choice to use unknowns, which added a bit more tension as we watch the characters meet their maker.
The rest of the cast is also made up of unknowns who do what they can with the material. As a war vet turned coroner, Matt Passmore does well in the role of Logan Nelson. Cle Bennet also does reliable work as Decretive Keith Hunt, who has their own motives for solving the case. In terms of the film's traps, given the film's budget, they are executed pretty nicely. Naturally, some of the traps are graphic in nature. However, the filmmakers appeared to have toned it down a notch this time around.
Jigsaw isn't without its problems, though. While it is a quick 90 minute run time, the film could have tightened the script a bit. A few of the characters are underwritten. While you are watching and waiting for them to meet a grisly end, a little character development is always welcome. If the studio is hoping to revamp the franchise, they will need to tighten things to keep the series fresh. Longtime fans may also be upset to know there are no mentions of previous fan favorites Dr. Gordon or Hoffman.
Despite the few small problems, Jigsaw is still worth a matinee. I give credit to the writers for providing a plausible ending and a nice twist. Should they decide to continue making SAW films, they are off to a good start. The SAW franchise is a series of movies you either like or you don't. Jigsaw doesn't break any new ground, and if you haven't become a fan of the series yet, then this one won't change your mind.
Final Grade: C