Jigsaw Plays a Game With Viewers, Comes Up Short

3 weeks ago , 1

“The game is simple. All the best ones are.”

Words from John Kramer, our very own Jigsaw, as he stares down two half-dead individuals who’ve been stripped of their humanity and maimed, either physically or emotionally, for the rest of their short lives.

If only Jigsaw filmmakers followed the character’s instructions and dropped the cheap shock-factor twists and went back to the bare bones of the Saw franchise: the complex deathtraps, human struggles, and phycological thriller aspects of it all, then maybe audiences could leave this film in the same sick fascination that’s kept the series alive since 2004. The newest installment, however, delivers the bare bones of what the creators hoped Saw fans were looking for, unfortunately it fails to appeal to a wider audience outside of its trophy horror junkies.

The movie opens on a scene with five individuals, buckets on their heads, chained to a wall full of saws in front of them. Totally a Jigsaw thing to do, right? Well, the kicker here is Jigsaw’s been dead for ten years. Bodies start turning up around the city, and authorities are scrambling for answers, insisting that Jigsaw is dead and has been for the past decade. But if that’s the case, who’s got these people locked up, and why?

The movie answers this through a series of disorienting plot twists and forced character confessions. The directors, Michael and Peter Spierig, in some ways understood exactly what they needed to make this movie great, and the remnants of what they tried to do are still dazzling in the otherwise flimsy framework. It’s a ride that keeps viewers engaged for all 92 minutes, but in no way is it a cinematic masterpiece. Several aspects leave the viewer striving to find meaning and motivation in certain plot points, which undercuts an otherwise solifly constructed, if lackluster, film.

For the most part, we can’t count on horror movies to deliver smart, well-developed characters. People watch these movies for the ‘Halloween factor’: the gore, torture devices and deathtraps. All of which prove to be quite the spectacle, and for most folks watching a Saw movie, that’s enough. Most of the deathtraps stay true to the franchise, leaving a theater full of people groaning and turning away from the screen. The gore was, in a word, disgusting, but fascinating as you watch what can happen to human anatomy in the wake of these grotesque devices. The final death in the movie certainly won’t leave your memory— and nightmares— anytime soon.

Aside from the blood and guts, the movie is fairly aesthetically pleasing. Cinematography-wise, it’s eye-catching, simple and complex in all the right places. Very rarely did the acting lose it’s potency, in most cases the characters could be believable if not underdeveloped.

Overall, if you’re looking for something rich in plot, with believable twists and plot points to make you think, maybe avoid this one. If you’re looking for some gore, something to cringe at, something to accelerate your heart and leave you breathless, then it’s definitely worth watching.