Jigsaw

Published on November 1st, 2017

Jigsaw

Directed by Michael and Peter Spierig

Starring Tobin Bell, Matt Passmore, Callum Keith Rennie

Reviewed by Michael Dalton

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

It’s been seven years since the last Saw film, the eighth one, in 3D, also known as The Final Chapter. A spoiler if I may: it brought the bloody saga full circle with the reappearance of Cary Elwes’s doctor, the only survivor of the first film. Each of the Saw films features a game during which deadly traps are utilised and (usually) groups of strangers with shameful secrets are thrown together and forced to find their way out of the booby-trapped maze. These games are created by the notorious vengeance seeker Jigsaw, John Kramer to be precise (Tobin Bell), who, when he discovered he had cancer, was so shattered he set about reminding the reckless of how lucky they were. No game in the movies ever had higher stakes and Bell’s deep, operatic voice was like a skincrawling death knell. It promised retribution you never dreamed of. He of course expired at the end of the third film but his memory and legacy have lived on.

 

Didn’t everyone agree the series had gone as far as it could? Did we need  a reboot? Based on the evidence of the new movie Jigsaw, the answer would be a resounding no. Directed by Michael and Peter Spierig who delivered the delirious Daybreakers and the mind bending Predestination, two excellent genre films, one can only assume they were killing time and hoping for a slam dunk at the box office (and they got it) by taking on the criminally repetitive screenplay by Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg. This is dreadful, over-familiar stuff.

 

The twist to each film has always been the time factor. When did this happen? While the captors fight for their lives, are the detectives and other interested parties running around the unnamed city trying to beat the clock for the victims or just find Jigsaw? Each game runs the length of the film and there’s always a hook at the end that declares you’ve been led up the garden path; where once we exclaimed in delight, now we snore. One of the thrills of each chapter is what deadly traps Jigsaw has devised for each challenge. Noisy and foolproof, they were the stuff of nightmares. The ones used here lack any ingenuity, and where once the series had a distinctive colour scheme (now it looks like any other splatter flick) and a genuine sense of dread, there’s not a moment here that won’t feel repulsively familiar, not an unnerving performance in sight, and not a twist to make your heart skip a beat. There’s even a character here, some sort of forensic researcher by day who, by night, prowls the streets in spike heels and keeps her own private Jigsaw Traps museum. She looks a little like Amy Adams but without the talent, or skill, or brains. Its that kind of movie. And the finale? Can you spell déjà vu? You’ll certainly smell it.