Apr 9, 2020

JIGSAW (2017)

Remember the old days when your friend would call you up when all those Saw sequels were hitting theaters and there was absolutely no way he/she could ascertain your interest in seeing it other than asking you flat out, “Wanna go see-Saw this weekend?”

Pretty funny, huh?

Well, there’s nothing funny about how bad Jigsaw is.

How’s that for a lead-in?

Though one could argue this about most horror franchises, Saw did not need to spawn any sequels, let alone seven — especially after having KILLED its main villain back during the fourth entry (and for real-killed, not Freddy Krueger-killed). The series managed to continue heavily involving Jigsaw himself, John Kramer (Tobin Bell), through the use of flashbacks, disembodied voices, and his “disciples.” If you’re lucky enough to have never seen most of this series, yes, it’s as stupid and tedious and very very unrealistic as it sounds.

As a loyal horror fan, the first Saw’s legend preceded it, as it had raised quite the stink at various film festivals, and I was in attendance opening weekend for its wide release. And it was…alright. It was over-directed by a clearly energetic James Wan, whose style would thankfully mellow as he found his footing in later films, and the well-executed twist ending was slick enough that it helped you to forgive how very silly it was.

A practice I’ve since grown out of, I would later hate-watch parts 2-4 before absolutely giving up for good, realizing I was only harming my brain and could better spend my time watching Dead Silence again. I’m only noting all this so it’s clear that I have absolutely no understanding of what goes on in Saws 5-7, though I imagine it involves Person A getting their toe cut off while Person B looks on and throws up on Person C, who is a jerk.

Jigsaw was proclaimed by its producers as being a radical reinvention of the series, but even based on my limited exposure to and utter impatience with the sequels, anyone can see that this seems to be more of the same old thing: heavy-handed posturing about morality while inflicting ghastly torture things on people who deserve it. Nu metal soundtrack, a foot falls off, twist, fin.

Though he’s not a gigantic name by any stretch, it’s still a shame to see Callum Keith Rennie appearing in this kind of garbage, considering he’s done solid work in the past, somewhat recently on David Duchvovy’s Californication and Netflix’s Longmire. Frankly, he’s the only person in this thing who offers a performance worth mentioning. Of course Tobin Bell appears, somehow (have fun figuring out how, ha ha!), though most of his presence comes through the use of audio recordings that he’s very very very strategically hidden around his barn of horrors.

Frankly, if you were on board with the entire Saw series to date, you’ll probably be on board with this one as well, as there doesn’t seem to be too much innovation going on. It even concludes with the same kind of twist that chronologically backtracks and shows you what really happened — executed in such a rapid manner that you get the indication the filmmakers want to get the whole thing over with before you have time to realize you could absolutely drive a tanker truck of liquid nitrogen through its many severe gaps in logic and plot holes.

Sadly, Jigsaw was huge at the box office, which led to the admittedly wacky-sounding sequel Spiral: From the Book of Saw, somehow written by Chris Rock and somehow starring Rock and Samuel L. Jackson. Though that odd development makes the forthcoming sequel the most intriguing entry in this series since the very first film, this series has also taken up far too much valuable Halloween real estate. I yearn for the days when John Kramer stays dead for real, allowing new ideas to flourish over October weekends.

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