When Jigsaw was inevitably announced as a reboot of the franchise I was actually pretty excited, the chance to reboot a franchise that has great potential with directors as talented as the Spierig brothers seemed like the perfect ingredients for something cool. I think there are some interesting places you can take a franchise like this and despite the bad reviews, did 2017’s Jigsaw do an effective job of rebooting the franchise? With the film officially out on VOD now, let’s take a look at one of the forgotten reboots of last year.
Ten years after the prolific killer Jigsaw has met his demise, evidence of a new game has appeared in the form of dead bodies and Jigsaw’s typical calling cards—tapes, puzzle pieces in victims’ flesh, etc. While a group of strangers fight for their lives in a remote barn, the hunt for Jigsaw is on way as the mystery reveals itself to be more and more twisted. From the writer of Good Luck Chuck and two of the writers of the Sorority Row remake comes the reboot of the hit horror series.
The Saw franchise started when I was nine years old, it was the horror movie that everyone’s older siblings would talk about around Halloween and us younger kids had to wait for that special day when one of those siblings would buy the movie on DVD and we could sneak off with it and watch. I admit that there’s some nostalgia here for me, I’ve been a fan of the franchise for a while now. That being said, these movies are not good, no no no, these are shlocky fun in my eyes. I put Saw up there with Friday the 13th—another franchise that I’ve grown up with–in as much as I can watch the movies and have fun with almost any of them, that doesn’t change that at the end of the day they are still bad movies. You will never see me trying to argue the quality of the Saw films.
I’ve always thought of the Spierig brothers as two of the most interesting modern filmmakers, with great films like Undead, Predestination and Daybreakers under their belt they’ve proved that they are a creative pair. These guys have put a lot of work into several very creative movies with very little box office returns, so I don’t blame the guys for needing the paycheck. While I don’t blame them for taking the job, this doesn’t feel like a well directed movie at all. This feels like when Spielberg directs movies that you can obviously tell he doesn’t give a shit about (The Lost World), this has none of the passion or creativity that those past Spierig films have, plus the performances are fucking terrible.
It was as if the Spierig’s put all of their focus on making everything look new and glossy and shiny (The kid from Super 8 yelling “production value!” popped into my head constantly during this movie) but when it came to directing the actors, the Spierig’s just handed the actors the Saw boxset and said “Just copy that”. I will give the Spierig’s a compliment in the form of their action set pieces, which focus less on gore an more on tension. Although I don’t give a fuck about any of these characters, the Spierig’s were able to wring out some tension from those set pieces, even if those set pieces don’t come with any satisfying payoffs.
You’d think that with the new cameras and the more crisp look that they would focus on making this new Saw story different in some way, to really come back with a BANG! Probably the most disappointing part of this film to me was that, although it’s a better looking film and some of the action sequences have some solid tension, nothing is improved on a story or character level.
Not. One. Thing.
The mystery, the dialogue and the acting are all 100% just as bad as they were in the previous films and although it never quite hits Saw: The Final Chapter levels of hilariously bad, it gets close. If anything it’s more depressing in this film because they actually had a chance to reinvent and reinvigorate a dead franchise. For a movie that tries so hard to be new on the surface, I wish this were a more clever story or that I were more invested in the characters. While everything looks nice and new, this feels like an abandoned Saw script that’s been collecting dust since 2011. In the third act, I appreciate how they attempt to set up a new slasher and a new direction for the franchise but it was just too little too late, involving characters that I just don’t care about.
I sound like I’m hounding on the movie but as far as Saw movies go, this isn’t necessarily a bad Saw movie. Not only does it not do anything worse than a majority of the franchise, it does some things better. That being said, what makes this movie so annoying to me is that the franchise has potential to be such a dark story about morality but the filmmakers seem too scared to go there. I think that with time, me and the six other Saw fans will look back on this and feel less harsh, it’s just so frustrating that after seven years the studio comes in with a reboot helmed by interesting filmmakers yet they give absolutely zero shits about the script.
This was written by people who brought us Good Luck Chuck, Sorority Row ’09, Piranha ’10 (which was fun, not because of any of the characters, story or dialogue though) which is crazy to me considering the Spierig’s have written all of their past movies and have been proven to be quality writers with interesting ideas. In fact, I just found out that the Spierig’s have another movie coming out in just a couple of weeks and I’m thinking that this is quite literally a Lost World situation. I haven’t seen their new movie but I’m willing to bet that it will feel a bit more inspired than this did.
So, the question is whether or not I can recommend this to anybody. Check out Jigsaw only if you are a fan of the franchise and don’t mind another entry in which the only difference is that it’s a better looking film with less gore. It’s a very middle-of-the-road movie for me, it’s a fine entry in the franchise but it’s frustrating that there was an opportunity to do something different and they instead went with same bad story, same boring characters, same bad actors. One of the Red Herring characters in this film literally has red hair, this movie is so unbelievably stupid at times yet somehow it never sunk to the depths that some of the other installments have sunken to. It’s a film that can’t quite reach the heights of the franchise like Saw III and Saw VI, yet It’s not entertainingly bad as Saw: The Final Chapter. If there’s really nothing else at the Redbox, it’s not the worst thing you can watch. My rating may seem a bit high for how little I’ve complimented this movie but I just didn’t hate it, I almost wish I did just so I could take some sort of emotion away from the experience.
Jigsaw is available to own on VOD platforms, available to rent or physically own starting January 23rd