Jigsaw (4.5 out of 10)
"You're about to play a game......"
I can't remember exactly where I was when I watched the first "Saw" film back in 2004. I do know I wasn't expecting much, as I never have high expectations going into horror films. I find most horror films usually boil down to the same tropes, over and over again, and thus become quite repetitive. Sure, they can be dressed up in different settings and sometimes they'll surprise you with originality, such as "Scream" or "Cabin in the Woods," but those horror films are few and far between, as the majority of them tend to be quite forgettable at best. So, imagine my surprise when I finished watching "Saw" and found that I really enjoyed it! It was an intense, disturbing film about a serial killer, Jigsaw, who tortures his victims with vicious games, the caveat being that his victims are people who have done some pretty evil acts themselves, and thus are being punished until they "repent of their sins," so to speak. If they beat the game, and thus repent, they'll survive, but if they lose the game, they die, usually in a violent, gory manner. I had never seen a film quite like it, at least at the time, and it has a whopper of a twist ending that took me completely by surprise. To this day, it is one of my favorite horror/thriller films, and it was a massive, surprise hit when it came out. It was such a huge hit, in fact, that it produced not only numerous copycat films (known facetiously today as "torture porn"), but no less than seven sequels. Unfortunately, the subsequent Saw films devolved into basically finding creative ways for Jigsaw to eviscerate and mutilate his victims, while offering really nothing new in terms of a smart narrative or compelling characters.
So that brings me to the latest sequel in the series, "Jigsaw," which despite being directed by the Spierig Brothers, who were behind 2009's solid vampire film "Daybreakers" and the excellent 2014 time-travel film "Predestination," ends up being more of the same ol' song and dance. To be fair, I did find myself somewhat engaged with the offering at times. I enjoyed the bevy of twists, turns, and red herrings presented throughout the film to throw off the viewer in terms of who was responsible for the latest deadly games (since the Jigsaw killer, John Kramer, had died 10 years before the events of the film.....or did he?). The scenes involving the police investigation and the two autopsy doctors (who may or may not have more going on than initially believed) were fairly intriguing. Unfortunately, the film falls flat with the torture porn aspect. The paper-thin, one-dimensional victims, with all the annoying yelling and screaming, were completely uninteresting to me. That made the moments when they are tortured and killed off, while filled with plenty of blood and gore, devoid of any tension. Also, despite the numerous twists and turns, I found the final twist to be quite anti-climactic and fairly lame. and overall a letdown. So, I suppose if you like your torture porn with plenty of blood and gore and little in the way of originality, creativity, engaging stories, or interesting characters, you may find plenty to enjoy in Jigsaw. Otherwise, sitting through the film may ultimately feel like being in one of Jigsaw's torturous games. I give "Jigsaw" a 4.5 out of 10.
- Ryan Zeid