Two months prior to the release of Jigsaw, I set an impossible goal to watch all seven installments of the Saw franchise series. I went out and bought used copies of each film for $1 a piece.
The first Saw was surprisingly an entertaining horror feature with a decent story, considering the low $1 million budget.
Next, Saw II was a misstep for the franchise because of its plot-holes, nauseating editing choices, excruciating moments of torture, poor character choices, terrible acting, and a head scratching ending.
Then, while suffering through Saw III, something miraculous happened.
About half way through the unbearable experience, the DVD broke. For fifteen-minutes I tried to get it to work again, but I accepted this as a sign.
Instead of watching the next four installments, I would watch Jigsaw only with two and a half Saw films under my belt. It turns out I did not miss much.
Although Jigsaw, played by Tobin Bell, has been dead for ten years, there are a string of murders that point towards the killer’s gruesome games. As usual, a couple of cops try to track down who is killing these people.
Is it an impersonator, or is Jigsaw back from the dead? For the eighth time, one can expect some absurd conclusion.
There are some fun games and the production quality is the highest compared to other installments.
However, Jigsaw still follows the same conventions of its six previous installments, while failing to be as thought provoking as the first.
Surprisingly, the latest games from Jigsaw are not as gory as one would expect.
Of course, the victims are sliced and diced, but it does not get too out of hand like from Saw II and onward. Most of the games played are silly, but there were a few genuinely fun moments.
One scene, which was featured in the trailer, has two victims stuck in a pile of wheat while objects come flying their way. Another scene features a game where a motorcycle serves as the engine for Jigsaw’s trap, which results in a laughable conclusion. After so many games, one must take the axe to their brain and try to have some fun.
While the games are subpar, the production is well done. Usually, Saw films are produced with a low budget ranging from $1 to $17 million. Somehow, the films with a budget upward of $10 million continued to have the same look as the first $1 million installment.
The latest movie does everything fine on a production level. There are no crazily edited transitions, nor the scary camera quality we have all come to expect.
Ben Nott’s cinematography is plausible and Kevin Greutert’s editing plays it safe.
With a better crew behind the camera and editing, we can better enjoy characters removing a pound of their own flesh before they get their head drilled off.
Although the franchise has finally got it right on a technical level, it continues to forget the purpose of why it was admired in the first place.
Saw created one of the most iconic characters in the horror genre with the Jigsaw killer, whose games had a thought provoking meaning.
The character is paradoxical, by forcing victims to play his grisly games while teaching the value of life. There’s nothing like grabbing a key out of a jar of acid or getting your ribs ripped out to learn this lesson!
Additionally, the games would indirectly kill the players, considering they put fate in their own hands.
With six installments straying away from its meaningful intentions, Jigsaw had the opportunity to put the franchise back on track.
Whoever is carrying out these killings could have put the morality of Jigsaw back in place, giving it the philosophical edge from Saw. However, the latest installment does not try to be anything more than what we have seen before.
The plot remains the same and the ending is predictable in the sense that something crazy was happening while we did not see it.
Well, it was a nice seven years until we got this one. While there are some features to appreciate like the handful of fun games and enhanced production quality, the eighth film was not needed.
Nearly fifteen-years after the first installment, the series continues to fail at replicating the horror phenomenon that influenced a generation.
Instead, it gives us a polished version of what we have seen repeatedly. One may not feel like jumping into a pile of needles while watching, but sawing off their leg might be tempting about halfway though.
Much like the Jigsaw killer, and this film, the series should remain dead.