Jigsaw is Back and… Well, he’s back.
After that stunt, Freddy Krueger pulled with “The Final Nightmare” and “The New Nightmare,” I should have seen this coming after Saw: The Final Chapter. Of course, it wasn’t going to be the final chapter. After all, the franchise wasn’t quite beaten to death yet. It was slowly crawling away though, grateful to be left with just a little life in it, until Hollywood once more stood over it, bat in hand. At this rate, horror movie franchises stay dead for about as long as superheroes in comics. It would seem that Hollywood has adopted the motto that “dead ain’t dead.”
Known primarily for being the face of torture porn (movies that focus primarily on gore rather than actual suspense or horror), the initial Saw film was revolutionary because it managed to present a new and exciting idea, how far would you go to survive. Since the first film though the series adopted the idea that it could create some of the most gruesome torture devices in modern cinema. Jigsaw though manages to fail not just the original film, but everything that horror fans came to love about the subsequent movies in the series.
I’ll admit that I hadn’t seen many of the Saw films until just recently (preparing myself to sit through the inevitable), and while I’ve never been one to really enjoy gore, there was a morbid sense of respect for the creativity that the previous films managed to inject into the gruesome traps presented. However, the new writers Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger just don’t seem to have the stomach to come up with truly disturbing traps. Of course, this is all relative, but I figured I would address what most of the fans of this series were probably looking forward to the most. However, the film does manage to carry on a number of the elements previously created in the series. Mostly in the form of the police being incompetent and a step behind. In spirit, it’s a decent sequel, but spirit hardly counts when it comes to horror.
Though perhaps much of the fault lay in the hands of the directors, Peter and Michael Spierig who haven’t had the best track records when it comes to horror movies in the past. This certainly shows through this time around, with the tension and pacing suffocated by an attempt to create a true “mystery.” However, the mystery is one that we’ve all seen before from this franchise. The only difference is it was previously used to justify the horrific violence in the films and this time around it just muddled it all down.
The story is as straightforward as you might expect. Years after the death of John Kramer (the original Jigsaw), yet again someone takes up the mantle to carry on his work. By this time though it’s surprising that things haven’t gotten completely watered down, I’m sure even the Saw franchise really has no idea what the main pillars of his manifesto are at this point. Afterall, he died way back in Saw III. Since then, there have been way too many people carrying on his cause to really know if any have a clue as to what he was talking about. In a way, that almost makes Jigsaw an appropriate installment into the series, because I get the feeling that it doesn’t even know what it’s doing.
Jigsaw is not what one might expect from this horror franchise and I mean that in the best and worst possible way. It’s not a gore fest (though that’s not for lack of trying), it doesn’t have the creativity that seemed to almost excuse the masochistic side of it. However, it also doesn’t have the gritty, industrial feel that the old ones did as well. It’s almost as though Jigsaw is trying to move into the 20th century, and the clean-cut technology betrays it. There’s no grit in this one. No dirty rooms that look like you could get an infection at any moment. It just seems to fall short on every possible level.
I was never a fan of the Saw series, so for me to feel like this is disappointing really means something. Jigsaw feels like it’s a complete disservice to everything fans might want from it’s newest movie. However, I also feel like this is not going to be the last time we hear from the maniac behind some of the most twisted traps in movie history. After all, Hollywood might have come close to beating it to death this time around, but I don’t think it quite managed to deliver the finishing blow.