Directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spiereg
Starring Matt Passmore, Torbin Bell, Callum Keith Rennie
Jigsaw sees the return of one of horror’s most recently successful franchises. Ten years after his apparent death, a new murder victim has been discovered and the police fear that The Jigsaw Killer is once again active. Medical examiner Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore), and Detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie), butt heads as they attempt to put their past conflict aside to solve the case before other corpses are found. However as the serial killer has previously shown deductive powers to rival Sherlock Holmes, and engineering abilities that would make Tony Stark cry, do the five people caught in John Kramer’s (Korbin Bell) latest game really stand a chance at survival, or could this be just a copycat attempting to take over the mantle?
Burdened with a clunky script the Spierig brothers lean heavily into the purple prose of horror. Jigsaw packs less of the tension than a Saw film should rely on, instead ratcheting up the stakes and keeping things moving at a hectic rate. On the plus side this means things are over mercifully quick, with Jigsaw never leaving audiences time to get bored during its one and a half hour run time.
The negative to this, is the script is merely a pencil sketch, with characters barely fleshed out (beyond a footnote), massive leaps in deduction, huge flaws in logic; it mercilessly contorts itself in an attempt to shoehorn this film into the Saw mythology. Everything here seems like a first pass, from the poorly conceived script, to the atrocious dialogue, to the flat delivery from all the actors.
Which is not to say Jigsaw is entirely awful. If you can set the poor plot and dialogue aside (and that is asking a lot) Jigsaw does offer a functional b-grade horror. Jigsaw is at its best when it is with the victims in the twisted game they are playing, rather than the overly convoluted detective drama taking place outside.
The fast pace of the film allows for some tense moments as the victims try to survive the traps, and outwit the Jigsaw Killer. Here the traps range from the fiendishly simple, to the ridiculously elaborate. A trademark of the series, there are some set pieces here that fit well in Jigsaw’s pantheon of twisted contraptions, while others are ludicrous, seeming like something that would endanger Adam West in Batman. The film is at its best when it keeps things simple and within the realms of possibility, and when it does Jigsaw actually manages to deliver some gruesome thrills.
A pulpy, and mildly enjoyable horror film, Jigsaw’s under-baked script does manage to provide a few blood-splattered thrills, but it lacks in the genuine tension and unsettling moments that the Saw franchise needs.