It’s the soft reboot that nobody asked for and yet here it is. Jigsaw, a torturesome trap of your own, with the sole intent of subjecting scores of people to brutal agony, making them scream why this has happened to them and when will it end?
Being a long time fan of the mediocre series, that is Saw, though that’s really not something I’m proud of, I was very curious how and why they would try to attempt another Saw film so soon after the series ended. Sometimes I’m a victim to my own curiosity.
The Saw franchise has a… select audience one I’d rather distance myself from, with a 20 foot barge pole. The basic principles for each film follow a fairly similar pattern and there are a number of things that make a Saw movie what it is:
- A twist
- Connection to earlier films
- Understanding why the victims were chosen
- Chance for the victims to escape
- Occasional grey-area morality
- Playing with words
It’s with these pillars that the story was able to go on for so long. These are what kept people entertained/interested in the outcome. Trying to spot the hidden meanings whilst also challenging your own moral compass was an interesting voyage even if it sometimes got lost in all the violence. This being said, Saw (2017) features most of these points but didn’t succeed in pulling them off.
This instance manages to pull off the torture, however, it may feature the majority of other points they are executed poorly. The connection to previous installments is only met because Jigsaw is in it. This make is painfully apparent that they’re milking the last drop they can in a desperate attempt to maintain his presence.
There’s almost no playful language, just a dry overly-serious script. The twist manages to raise more questions than answering them. Finally, the reasons for the torture are very black and white. Jigsaw is ridding itself of any moral quandary for the audience to think about which could work if the victims have a chance to escape. They don’t, completely undermining the point in the tests and the entire mantra of Jigsaw.
I feel the most perplexing thing about this movie is how they managed to make it boring. The characters are boring, the story is boring even the traps are boring. The formula is tried and tested but to be able to fail at such a simple thing is agonising. For Christ’s sake this film required two directors and two writers to pull it off. How? How do four different people working on a singular project both miss the entire point of this type of film and make it boring? To be able to fuck up such a primitive premise hurts more than half the traps in the film.
The story seeks to undo all some of the biggest twists of the franchise. The most arrogant of all being (spoiler alert) the main man playing the game was Jigsaw’s first disciple. The entire game is taking place before the first film and the police had never found it or even known about it.
I was under the impression that it was the doctor, from the original Saw, who was the biggest twist incarnate. Why has this imposter been shunned out to be the new ‘oh my God’ moment? They don’t even try to fit him in the other films, it’s merely stated that he was there at the start. At least with the doctor they made a compilation of how his skills aided the entire series and helped close some loopholes.
Jigsaw could have explored loads of avenues as a result of the last installments. Off the top of my head, I have four questions that could have been explored in this feature which would have made for a better story:
- What has happened to the country after the previous film concluded?
- What happened to the people? There could have been copycats.
- How have law enforcement and politics changed?
- Why were the police kept on this case. As soon as it was suspected that a Jigsaw type killing had occurred why wouldn’t the FBI get involved?
Maybe explore how the rise in the use of social media has changed the landscape of nearly everything from law enforcement to communication. There’s a lot which could be examined and a deep circle of mystery expected to be delivered.
What you get, however, is 92 minutes of cliche, unimaginative scenes where nothing has impact. I cared for nothing in this film; I didn’t care about the people in it. Besides being curious about how much Tobin Bell made from this, I didn’t care about the story and I didn’t care about the world they live in.
None of it seemed real. The world, the people within it, the fear of the traps, the fear of a copycat, the fact that since the take-down of the Jigsaw killers the police had developed no new methods. I personally think the copycat idea would have been the best idea to go with. This could have been a victim continuing the work or someone else who had experienced injustice. At least then there’s a chance to be emotionally invested in…something.
The older films managed to tie in the victims, more or less, reasonably whereas how Jigsaw knew these people were bad is beyond me. This is most apparent for the woman who blamed the death of her child on the husband. How the fuck would you know that’s a lie? As far as we’re shown she never tells anyone and not even the husband finds out the truth so did Jigsaw have a private eye following her because reasons?
So it’s that time again when another weirdly beloved series of films I like should be brought to the back porch, bound, gagged then shoved into a meat grinder. While the previous titles had a wafer thin story they at least made sense victim wise and tried to wrap up the loose ends. Jigsaw however, buckles after the first line of dialogue is uttered.
All of this left me asking; what happened to the soul of film? Where’s the creativity in set design or traps? Instead, it’s replaced with desperate acts of pandering to a fanbase. A base who have moved on, leaving just a husk of a shell of what was once; Saw. It is a sad day indeed when a torture-porn series accomplishes the achievement of mediocrity.