Released 2nd November (Australian release)
Seen 15th November
Directed by Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig
Written by Pete Goldfinger & Josh Stolberg
Produced by Serendipity Productions, Twisted Pictures & A Bigger Boat
Starring Matt Passmore, Tobin Bell, Callum Keith Rennie, Hannah Emily Anderson & Laura Vandervoort
In 2004 a couple of Aussies changed the world of horror cinema with nothing more than a handsaw, a bathroom and Westley from The Princess Bride. It went on to become one of the biggest horror series of all time raking in around half a billion dollars with its annual releases until the series came to an end with Saw 3D in 2010. The series was considered long dead until this year when Jigsaw revived the franchise and let the games begin again… sadly, much like when you play any game multiple times, you know all the moves by now and after a while, the game stops surprising you.
The main element of any Saw franchise is the kills, it’s the element of this series that made it infamous which is kind of adorable because any fan of the Horror franchise can point to about 10 films from the slasher boom of the 80’s and get you films with much gorier and more elaborate kills than anything seen in the Saw movies, the only difference being that Saw tends to be a lot grimier to it appears more disgusting. In terms of Saw kills, these ones are… let’s be kind and use the term ‘Varied’. A few of these feel incredibly similar to ones we’ve seen in previous movies. When they do original ones, like the silo sequence or even the final sequence, it’s interesting and terrifying and they work brilliantly but when they rely on rehashes then it falls flat.
Let me just expand on this point a little bit. The first major sequence which involves 5 characters with buckets on their heads is a very mild variant of one seen in Saw 5 (Which made sense to have in that movie because 5 victims, the blades were shaped by a V, the 5th movie, it was thematic) and other sequences have this air of familiarity to them, from scenes involving legs being removed (Saw 1) to people hanging above whirling blades (Saw 3D) and that’s kind of a bummer because this franchise has always had a knack for original death sequences and here it feels like we’re just doing callbacks, and not in a way that makes sense. Callbacks work when revitalising a franchise IF you are making a point about the fact that this was done before, look at Scream 4 for a great example of how to do this kind of thing correctly as it’s callbacks were intentional since it was a parody of remakes. This isn’t, this is a sequel. It might want to be fancy by calling itself Jigsaw but sorry, the events of the previous films still happened in this one and thus it’s a sequel, callbacks are not done in ways that make sense or are interesting enough to be warranted.
Also can you maybe not do callbacks to awful 3D shots? This film might not be 3D, but there are so many shots that feel like they were done explicitly for a 3D film and I don’t want to be reminded of the film fad that refuses to die no matter how many times we kill it.
The effects in this film vary wildly in quality. Some of them are genuinely effective and feel like they were done practically, they are genuinely terrifying and really set the scene just right. Then there are the ones that’re so clearly CGI it’s painful. KnB Effects still exists guys, they’re working on the newest Walking Dead series. Give them a call and ask them to come throw blood around, they’ll have fun and you’ll have climactic finales that don’t look like something cranked out in about 30 minutes in Cinema 4D. When everything works, they look incredibly gory in the way that these films do pretty well but when it doesn’t, it’s laughable.
The storyline of this is also a little nonsensical. I know it might sound silly to be annoyed by this but the thing that a lot of people seem to ignore is that the Saw franchise has a lot of intricate and clever plotlines that mesh pretty well. One film will unravel a thread that gets picked up a couple films later and feels natural. This film doesn’t feel like it’s doing that, any threads that were left out from previous films aren’t being picked up here, if anything more are being added in pointless ways that only seem to add confusion to the mix. The only thing that we have that really links them is that one of our main cast may have mixed up some test results that caused a problem for another main character, that’s about it and that’s not really worth bringing up. As it’s own story, it’s serviceable but I’ve seen these films do so much better with the threads that were handed to them.
I’d talk about the cast but this is a slasher film, the cast is there to deliver lines and die when they’re told to and they do that adequately. I’ve seen better, I’ve seen worse but no fan goes to a slasher movie for the acting. Oh, and because I need to state this I want to make it clear that these films have more in common with the slasher flicks of the 80’s than anything else… enough of that “Torture Porn” bullshit. That’s a stupid marketing phrase thought up by shitty critics who don’t like horror films in general.
In general, this is an adequate entry into the franchise and should be treated as such. It’s a franchise that by now you only go to if you’re already a fan of them and this is better than the last entry, but it’s far from the glory days of Parts 2, 3 and 6 (The best of the franchise, in my humble opinion). If you want a cheap popcorn flick that’ll give you a jump then maybe go see this one, I can only hope that if they do another one that they go back to basics and learn what made the original series more iconic and then do something reminiscent of that, just not a cheap carbon copy of it.