‘Jigsaw’ is Exactly What You Think it is, For Better or Worse

Jigsaw_2017_posterWhat’s it say about us as a human species when characters in the “Saw” films are fighting for their lives in deathtraps and we’re just all hoping and praying for them to fail?

“Jigsaw” is the eight installment of the torture porn franchise, and the first since 2010’s “Saw 3D.” In the film, the Jigsaw Killer appears to have resurfaced despite having died years prior and the police must find out if it is a copycat or he has indeed returned from the dead. Matt Passmore, Callum Keith Rennie, Clé Bennett and Hannah Emily Anderson star as Michael and Peter Spierig direct.

I’ve never actually seen a “Saw” film cover-to-cover, just bits and pieces of the first few on TV, so I went into “Jigsaw” with little-to-no expectations. So maybe it was not knowing which characters I was supposed to know about or how dedicated to the brand and story this latest installment is, but I got enough bloody enjoyment out of “Jigsaw” to give it a *shrug* of a passing review.

The acting in horror films is always a low-hanging fruit to criticize and the “Saw” films especially have been guilty of featuring some pretty bad performances. Nothing is really different here, with several actors turning in over-the-top or just very annoying work.

On more than one occasion, my friend leaned over to me to complain about Paul Braunstein’s “jerk” role and at one point said “imagine being this desperate to star in a movie” (Braunstein does get grating after a while). Other performances are fine, like Matt Passmore’s forensic expert, but we don’t go to “Saw” films for Oscar-caliber turns from anyone.

We go for the bloody death traps set up by Jigsaw and here they’re…fine. The games are pretty basic and unlike previous films the blood and gore isn’t over-the-top, which may be a blessing to some viewers but a disappointment to others.

What really sold the film for me, however, is the twist at the end. Everything was going fine enough, I knew I wasn’t watching high art and I wasn’t bored but the film was kind of just “whatever,” however then the film comes up with an actually somewhat clever reveal and despite the numerous plot and continuity holes I’m sure it created if I cared to think back and fine, it pushed my score up a whole point.

I’m a rare case in that I hadn’t ever really seen a “Saw” film yet I went to see “Jigsaw;” at this point in the game there won’t be many people who check this out if they’re not already invested in the series. Still, as far as bloody death horror films go and it being Halloween and all, I think “Jigsaw” is a nice 90 minute diversion that has enough kills and plot twists to keep viewers of all kinds entertained and I hope I’m not out of line when I say that I’m sure for fans of the franchise this was worth the seven year hiatus.

Critics Rating: 5/10


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