After seven years of Halloween going by without a Saw film to accompany it, I deemed it appropriate to indulge this year and went to see the latest entry on All Hallow’s Eve. I was excited to see how the “revamp” of the series turned out, and also was looking forward to watching an actress whom this was her first high-profile film. While that actress regrettably died five minutes in (damn that hydrofluoric acid!), the movie itself landed near the middle of the Saw pile.
The first film is a classic, and allowed James Wan to introduce himself to the world via some chains, a small room, and a hacksaw. The second, while it has its incredulous moments and corny dialogue bits, is pretty good as well. The third movie and all that have come after it — virtually indistinguishable from one another.
The third film stands out for me, only as being the most gruesome of them all, and was when the series went from focusing on the ambiguity of John Kramer’s (Jigsaw’s) morality, to seeing how extreme a death scene can be and how mangled the human body can become. After that shift, the films have been injected with the same formula: an over-the-top plot that is interspersed with over-the-top torture scenes of characters who are too icky to like anyways. But, despite the thinness of the latter movies, it’s been a winning formula, monetary-wise.
Jigsaw, while it can be considered a stand-alone film, continues this formula instead of hearkening back to the origins. Not as grotesque as the ones before it, but still very much wince-inducing. If you’ve seen any of the other films, you’ll know what to expect from this one: people get trapped, detectives try to solve the mystery, and once that mystery gets solved, the “killer” explains everything while the film flashes back to everything in the last 2-3 minutes, a severe lashing of information that leaves one astounded that they could soak up all the revealing.
I would rank Jigsaw as maybe the fourth best film in the series, as it’s not terrible; being a fan of the series will definitely aid in taking it for what it’s worth. And, lest ye not forget…even though John Kramer died 5 movies ago, Tobin Bell still graces us with his seemingly eternal presence! As long as that man continues to be in the films, I will have to continue to see them.
>> Person to see this movie with: Your friendly, neighborhood sadist.