kjproulx via Rotten Tomatoes
“The Saw franchise went downhill since the original back in 2004. Though it was assumed to have ended in 2010, another sequel has arrived seven years later. My main concern with this was the fact that it was probably going to end up being another film that’s made for fans of violence and gore, who enjoy this series just for the traps and who makes it out alive. While Jigsaw is exactly that, there are many more layers to this film than I was expecting, making for a somewhat enjoyable viewing experience. I won’t be recommending this movie to anyone who has never seen a previous installment, nor will I recommend it to those who have and have disliked it from the beginning. Jigsaw isn’t going to win any new fans over, but in terms of popcorn horror entertainment, I think you can still do much worse than Jigsaw. It tries very hard to please hardcore fans, and I truly believe that it does so. This really isn’t all that great of a movie, but let’s dive into why it’s better than it deserves to be.
Like always, you follow the police as they try to solve the mystery of the ongoing puzzle so that they can try and save as many lives as possible. These films exist for their traps nowadays, but I have to give credit where credit is due and offer some applause to the neat little twists this movie pulls off throughout its final act. Like most of these sequels, the twists are too little and too late, but you can tell that the writers care about trying to give the audience a little more than just killing people in inventive ways.
The characters throughout this film receive some backstory, but that’s also the biggest issue I had with this movie as a whole. Looking back on it, I appreciate the fact that each of the characters throughout the core game was fleshed out more than I was expecting them to be, but they honestly make you hate every one of the players, which was a huge distraction from me, having absolutely nobody to root for. Yes, the majority of these movies are like that, but there was always someone to latch onto, hoping they would make it out alive. Instead, we receive a slew of characters that have all made terrible decisions in the past, forcing you to slightly be okay with what the killer is doing to them.
Although I didn’t care about any of the characters, Jigsaw found a way to win me over in the end, with a few very clever reveals, making the characters themselves seem less relevant anyway. You don’t go into a Saw movie to see fleshed out characters, but when a movie can ground itself and invest you even in the slightest, points can be given for that. The character of John Kramer is the character who’s fleshed out the most here, giving a small, but detailed level to the franchise itself, which was quite the surprise for me.
The deaths themselves are pretty impressive in terms of being memorable because everything from Saw IV to Saw VII is a complete blur to me. I’ll be remembering some of the set pieces when looking back on Jigsaw and that’s easily more than I was able to say about most of the sequels that this franchise has offered through the years. There are nods to previous deaths throughout some of the games and there’s definitely a reason behind that, which makes it worth waiting until the end.
Overall, like I said, Jigsaw won’t win over any new viewers, but fans of the franchise will be able to appreciate the cleverness that it has to offer when it ties itself into the timeline of the series. The dialogue is very generic, the story itself isn’t anything you haven’t already seen, and the characters are extremely forgettable. That being said, the traps are fun, the conclusion is satisfying for those who have followed the series from the beginning, and the spirit of the original is still present enough to warrant a recommendation for hardcore fans. Jigsaw works for what it sets out to achieve, but it’s still the same old schtick. I had a fun time with this movie because I’ve seen every other film in the franchise and I still found this one of the best. It’s really not that bad in retrospect.”