The eighth instalment in the Saw series throws audiences into an agonising game of boredom and predictability
After 2004’s Saw — a commendably inventive and gripping horror/thriller directed by James Wan — six sequels were released in as many years. The scenario of a group of sinners forced to repent to avoid gruesome deaths was rehashed time and time again, leaving the concept completely exhausted.
2010’s Saw: The Final Chapter brought 3D into the fray in an attempt to introduce some fresh allure into the franchise. Yet, despite James Cameron’s insistence that three dimensional film is the future of cinema, it surprised very few when for the sixth time the sequel failed to live up to its original predecessor.
There was a glimmer of hope when Jigsaw was announced. Seven years had passed since the last movie in the series, and although admittedly having very low expectations, I could not help but think that Lionsgate would have spent this intermission to find the right directorial and writing team to try and evoke the same success which the original Saw oozed with.
Sadly, this was not the case. The plot remains a carbon copy of its preceding films — several strangers wake up to find themselves trapped in some kind of twisted game. In order to survive the sadistic trials they have been thrust into, the victims must pay some form of sacrifice — usually a loss of a limb or killing a fellow hostage — and confess their crimes.
The host of their grisly contest is hosted by John Kramer, AKA the Jigsaw Killer — a figure who has been presumed dead for ten years. After corpses are found with his signature — a jigsaw puzzle piece — detectives Halloran and Keith Hunt begin to fear that the psychopath has returned from the grave, and a race against time ensues for the pair to track down Kramer before he strikes again.
James Wan’s 2004 film held its cards very close to its chest. Saw’s shocking finale presented a surprising and satisfying twist, whilst the characters were sympathetic and developed despite the lack of exposition.
On the other end of the spectrum, Jigsaw’s plot is unbelievably predictable and its characters are increasingly dislikeable, not aided by hammy acting throughout from its cast. The void left by Danny Glover’s protagonist is still looming large 13 years down the line, with Callum Keith Rennie and Matt Passmore failing to provide worthy foils of Tobin Bell’s Jigsaw.
The one admirable trait which the Spierig Brothers’ sequel possesses is its evident desire to respect and pay homage to the original. However, much akin to Ridley Scott’s gargantuan disappointment Alien: Covenant earlier this year, throughout the film ‘homage’ slips into blatant recycling — the ending especially.
The mischievously sinister ‘Hello Zepp’ track which has become the theme of the franchise returns once again, but has somewhat lost its potency since the ending of James Wan’s opening act of the series.
Fans of the series won’t be too disappointed, with just enough throw-back material to induce fond nostalgia in certain scenes, yet there is nothing compelling enough or new to entertain casual Saw or horror aficionados. Even the gory and gruesome deaths have been toned down to some extent, yet the film’s blood-spattered climax will satisfy audiences expecting the morbidly macabre.
Jigsaw shows good intent, but woeful execution. Saw is most definitely a game we no longer want to play.