Review: JIGSAW (2017)

Teaser poster for Jigsaw (2017)

It’s been a long and lucrative road for the much maligned Saw franchise. From small beginnings to impossible heights to crashing lows, the series was a Halloween stalwart for seven whole years before Jigsaw hung up his pig hood and took a backseat to the ghost flicks that are only just now starting to overstay their own welcome. The original indie hit made millions worldwide on a very modest budget, as did the following six installments, until audiences fell out of love with Billy the puppet and decided it was time for a reinvention. Seven years on from the short-comings and barrel scrapings of Saw 3D (2010), we have Jigsaw. A new entry with some fresh meat in the directing and writing seats has been wheeled out (tricycle included) to appease the waiting gore hounds like myself who have missed baddie Tobin Bell’s husky laments. But is it any good?

I’m gonna try my best to keep this as spoiler free as possible since the US release date isn’t until tomorrow (27th October 2017) and the UK has, for some reason, got this a day early. Speaking about the plot in the simplest of terms, you’re in for more police procedural drama interwoven with the Jigsaw killer’s latest game. But wait, you ask, isn’t Jigsaw dead? We watched him die four films ago! Nothing is ever as it seems in these movies, and time is extremely relative in the Saw universe, as any fan will tell you. It’s best to go into this one with an open mind and a stronger stomach. They brought the blood, They brought the gore, they brought the tape recorders. All the ingredients are here, but we have a few new toys to play with this time around.

Still from Jigsaw (2017)

From a technical standpoint, I don’t think it’s controversial to say that this is the most impressive looking Saw film to date. An autumnal colour palette gives the film a refreshing lick of paint and sets it apart from the neon blues, grime greens and urine yellows of old. There is cinematography. It’s nice to get outdoors for some fresh air until we have to go back inside for the main events. Traps are presented in a way that makes each one memorable and distinguishable from the last, showing there was some thought given to geography and space without clutter or convolution. Matters of life and death, the choices the players are given, are all explained and comprehensible without feeling predictable or unnecessary. There is one all-timer thrown in the mix here, which is sure to get the skin prickling and the nerves ajangle.

So that leaves us down to the nitty-gritty, then: is this a reinvention of a franchise that most would argue should have remained locked away without a key? Yes and no. Are there enough elements here to bring newcomers on board? Possibly. You will need the knowledge of the last seven films on hand for this one, this is no reboot, at least not in the traditional sense. For fans, it’s a no-brainer, but for the casual audience member looking for a scare, you might be better served elsewhere. This is more palatable and a touch less nihilistic than its predecessors due to a digestible and streamlined presentation, but it is still the 8th film in the Saw franchise. Make of that what you will. I had an enjoyable time at the movies since I’m a biased fan of John Kramer and his demented hobbies, and that’s all I really asked for from Jigsaw. Would it have killed them to film it in 3D though?