Jigsaw is the eighth film in the long running, albeit recently dormant, Saw franchise. It follows 2010’s disappointing Saw 3D (aka “The Final Chapter”) and is directed by Aussie brothers, Peter and Michael Spierig (Daybreakers, Predestination). With such talent behind the camera one could be forgiven for expecting a higher calibre sequel, and while Jigsaw is certainly better than the last three or four Saw entries, that’s a pretty low razor wire-covered bar to clear.
Jigsaw is essentially two narratives intercut with one another. One involves five strangers who wake up in a room with buckets on their heads and chains around their necks. A familiar gravelly voice speaks over an intercom, telling the unfortunates he wants to play a game and, well, you know the rest. Games are played, elaborate traps are sprung and secrets are revealed as the cast are whittled down in suitably gruesome fashion. Outside the room, forensic pathologists Logan (Matt Passmore) and Eleanor (Hannah Emily Anderson) are embroiled in a related mystery involving corrupt detective, Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) who may or may not be involved in the Jigsaw case in some fashion. But wait, hasn’t John Kramer (Tobin Bell), aka Jigsaw, been dead for over a decade? The answer may surprise you…
Despite containing elements of sequel, prequel and reboot, Jigsaw feels very much like business as usual. Some of the traps are mildly inventive but most of the characters are too obnoxious, shouty or willfully stupid to care about. The story has a couple of decent twists buried underneath about a dozen average ones, and you can almost hear the screenplay’s spine snapping as it bends over backwards, attempting to rationalise some of the more unlikely third act revelations.
Ultimately Jigsaw is an above average Saw film, but a fairly ordinary horror film. It proves that no matter how many elaborate death scenes you stage, or twists you unleash, without interesting characters or a compelling story – it’s game over before it even begins.