Where to begin with Jigsaw, the sort of sequel, maybe soft reboot of the Saw franchise that comes seven years after the last Saw film and narratively taking place 10 years after John Kramer’s death?
How about start with the first thing we hear. It is a revamp of Charlie Clouser’s Saw theme song: “Hello Zepp.” The song, here in Jigsaw, sounds less industrial. It doesn’t churn and clink like it is a song being made by a bunch of machinists on their lunch break at the factory. It sounds like it was that song, but it was then fed through a computer in order to clean it up.
This is not a huge problem. No, no. It is just a sign right up front of what is to come in the next 90 minutes.
Jigsaw is a Saw film cleaned up to look like every other horror movie on the market in 2017. Remember that grainy aesthetic of the first Saw film, that yellow and weathered approach that makes you feel a bit queasy the whole time? That is gone.
Don’t get me wrong, Jigsaw looks pretty good. Ignore the one trap with the motorcycle and this constantly spinning red spiral, where the camera setup that is used throughout makes pure confusion of depth, making everything that is going on virtually imperceptible. Other than that, the film is shot well. There are a couple shots that are, dare I say, great.
But, if anything, this takes away from the tone and feel of Saw. It is normal and sanitized.
Of course, if one can look past this then this film lives up to its name, right?
In some ways, it does. There are traps and gore and a twisty narrative. But the traps are not particularly creative or suspenseful. The gore is, well, gory and not much else.
The twisty narrative? The use of John Kramer’s “legacy” and plot twists is perhaps the best that a reboot of the Saw franchise could hope to be. The twist is, while not jaw-dropping, fairly ambitious. Too bad that characterization is of no concern to the screenwriters, as even the smallest bit of character development could have made this twist worthwhile.
As with pretty much every Saw film, the leaps in logic leave a chasm in their wake. But Jigsaw makes these leaps all the more infuriating by honing in on other specifics, over-explaining them unnecessarily. Then there is Jigsaw’s game, which is utterly devoid of intelligence. The progression of it is impossibly precalculated, even more than in previous films. The suspension of disbelief that is necessary to buy in is just far too high.
Jigsaw is, at best, a superfluous addition to a horror franchise that just will not die. At worst, it is an infuriating mental experience augmented by the occasional splatter of gore.
As always, thanks for reading!
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)