I think I have real issues with loving myself sometimes. That’s the only explanation I could come up with for why I voluntarily decided to watch Jigsaw the other day.
After working my way through the entire Saw franchise a couple of years ago, I kind of figured one more film wouldn’t do any harm. It certainly couldn’t be any worse than the collection’s sixth instalment, which it wasn’t. But this is a Saw sequel, so whilst I was hopeful that Jigsaw would be watchable, I was never going to allow my expectations to get too high.
This film takes place about 10 years after the serial killer known as Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) died. With no sign of any of the apprentices he nurtured within the first seven films, everyone must ask themselves who could possibly be behind the mutilated bodies that have started turning up on the streets again. With this in mind, it is dead safe to say that the writers behind Jigsaw stuck to what they knew. The entire film can be summed up as follows:
1. A human body wildly appears, absolutely battered.
2. Comparisons are made between this body and those thrown up by the Jigsaw murders.
3. BUT JIGSAW’S DEAD? (This or words to that effect are uttered by someone).
4. It’s clearly Person X – they’ve always had an unhealthy interest in the case.
5. Person Y, who was never suspected, “Surprise, bitches! It was me all along.” (Cue backstory that’s not nearly as clever as it thinks it is).
I’ve to be honest, the above was a formula that was wearing thin long before this instalment. With this film though, it was starting to feel almost like a spoof of all the films that came before it. However, that may be why Jigsaw was at least a serviceable watch.
Everything about it kind of paid homage to (or poked fun at, depends what side of the fence you’re on) all the films that came before it. We had the same set of characters as we had time and time again throughout the first seven films – intelligent ones, stupid ones, selfish ones, good cops, bad cops, and that one character who is way too obsessed with the murders. The fact that we got a new set of faces fulfilling these roles once again emphasised this idea that no one seems overly keen to stray too far from the beaten path with this franchise, even if this tried and heavily tested method could do with a refresh. There’s also the backstory of how one person got recruited by Jigsaw, presumably only included so that there was an excuse to get Tobin Bell back with the ol’ moneymaker time and time again.
Jigsaw is a lot more self-aware than any of it’s predecessors however. It’s not scared to have little digs at the tropes that have made the franchise feel so tiresome in all the years it’s been running. This is something that makes it slightly less painful to watch whilst sober at least. If only the creative team had exercised this quality with the same gay abandon they seemed to wield when coming up with the traps, which were as ridiculous as we’re used to.
By now, I’m sure you’ll understand that this is far from a perfect film (gasp!). Of course, that’s not to say that the team behind it weren’t hopeful that the franchise may continue further following this film. What I’m raging about here though is the way that it looks like they – whoever THEY are – are going to do this. You’ll remember me saying Jigsaw seemed slightly self-aware. This was something that only lasted up to a point. At the end of the film, they of course pulled some twisty shit and pretty much used it as the facilitator for the cheapest, laziest reboot of a franchise that I’ve ever known. Saw died a death long ago. NOBODY needs a Marvel-style phase two to start now. And even if they do… even if someone, somewhere is desperate for more Saw in their life, it could’ve been set up so much better than this.
That’s my take on Jigsaw. It’s fair to say that I’m not quite fully acquainted with all of the feelings I had about it just yet. There’s definitely a sprinkling of hopelessness and a dash of anger there. Perhaps even some disappointment in myself for not knowing better. Whilst not the worst in the franchise, it is unnecessary and without a single hint of a doubt a sluggish cash grab that we will all continue to fall for on more occasions than we have already. The only saving grace here is the fact that it does seem to muster some self-deprecating humour, although not nearly enough to make up for the multitude of other sins it commits. And to think that another film has just been given the green light at the time I write this review. Will it ever end?