Director: Michael & Peter Spierig
Script: Josh Stolberg & Peter Goldfinger
Cast: Matt Passmore, Callum Keith Rennie, Cle Bennett, Hannah Emily Anderson, Laura Vandervoort, Mandela Van Peebles, Paul Braunstein, Tobin Bell
Running time: 92 minutes
After several years on the backburner the Saw franchise rises from the dead in the shapely form of Jigsaw, one of the better entries in the oftentimes controversial series. I, for one, wasn’t surprised when it was announced that a new Saw film was in the works, since the series had been one of the highest grossing horror franchises of all time, hence where there’s money to be made Hollywood obediently follows!
After a series of murders bearing all the hallmarks of the infamous ‘Jigsaw killer’, law enforcement find themselves chasing after the ghost of a former engineer-genius who’s been dead for over a decade, and they become rapidly immersed in a new game of ethics and torturous death-traps. The big question on everyone’s lips is: is John Kramer back from the dead to remind the world to be grateful for what they’ve got (i.e. their lives), or is this a nefarious trap set by a copycat killer with their own moralistically skewed agenda?
Now I don’t want to go into too much detail regarding the plot of Jigsaw, however, suffice to say, it’s convoluted and involves flashbacks and the writers playing with the series’ timeline. But, what I will say is that fans of the series won’t feel cheated by Jigsaw since the filmmakers have retained some consistency with the original films, whilst injecting some freshness back into the franchise. Plus, new viewers to the series will also find themselves entertained by a decent horror flick that ticks many boxes for a good portion of horror fandom.
Personally, I didn’t really see the need for yet another Saw movie, but the film that’s been delivered, kicking and screaming into the world, is much better than I’d hoped for, so the makers should be applauded for not cocking this up. In fact, I hope they do at least one more to answer a few of the questions posed at the end of this latest, bloody, instalment.
Jigsaw is well-made and obviously had a decent budget behind it. It’s well shot and nicely directed by the Spierig brothers, who are making a name for themselves in the horror genre (Predestination, Daybreakers). I think my only technical gripe was that the DVD I had for review delivered very quiet sound during normal dialogue scenes and very loud sound during the more action-packed scenes, which became rather annoying after a while. I just hope this was a fault with my review disc, and wasn’t a feature of the film itself.
The story told here does tend to pose rather a lot of questions and doesn’t seem to answer all of them, but that’s always been the nature of the Saw franchise. However, I do have one question: where did John Kramer (aka Jigsaw) get all his money from to create all these elaborate traps, and to do all the research and development on them in the first place? The guy must have been rolling in it!
Lionsgate are distributing Jigsaw on Blu-ray and DVD. Extras on the disc include:
An audio commentary with producers Mark Burg, Oren Koules and Peter Block;
A behind the scenes documentary I speak for the dead: The legacy of Jigsaw (81 mins), which is an exhaustive documentary covering the history of the Saw franchise and which also looks at the thinking behind revisiting Jigsaw’s legacy seven years after the last Saw film. Essentially the producers see Jigsaw as being more like the first Saw movie, with more of a thriller vibe to it, rather than being an out and out gory horror film. However, we also hear from the writers who talk about their original ending for Jigsaw being probably the most OTT climax they’ve come up with yet, but having it changed in favour of its current ending, which is considerably tamer, apparently. We also learn that actor Tobin Bell is very protective with regard to his character, Jigsaw, and was very much involved with creating his dialogue throughout the series. Bell also admits to having actually stayed put on set, pretending to be dead, for the whole of the 6 days they shot the bathroom scene in the first Saw movie, when he only really needed to be there for 2 days. That’s commitment for you!