As much as I love the Saw series, and I do, my eyes rolled hard when I heard that they were adding to it with one more instalment (for now). Unlike many people, I was very pleased with how the last instalment had attempted to tie up numerous strands and end things on a satisfying note for fans.
Then I discovered that the Spierig brothers (Peter and Michael) were going to be involved, and I've been a fan of almost all of their previous movies. This made me tentatively optimistic. Then I saw the trailer. I was sold.
The plot is exactly what you expect from a Saw movie. A group of people come around and find that they have been unwillingly volunteered to participate in some deadly games. Everyone has a reason to be there, but will any of them be able to survive? Two detectives (Callum Keith Rennie and Cle Bennett) are on the case, and two pathologists (Matt Passmore and Hannah Emily Anderson) start their own investigation, with each party mistrusting the other.
Jigsaw delivers exactly what you want it to deliver. You get some great traps, a number of twists and turns, and editing sleight of hand that tries to keep you in the dark for as long as possible. Of course, part of the fun with these movies now comes from trying to figure out just where the trickery is taking place, not just with the traps but with the structural playfulness and the hidden character motivations. The script, by Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg (who also gave us the fun of both Piranha 3D and Sorority Row), isn't as clever as it thinks it is. Saw movie scripts seldom are, however, and it works as a gory thriller that at least attempts to avoid being as dumb as possible.
The visual palette feels similar to previous instalments, yet the Spierig brothers even manage to effect some positive changes here. You get the feeling that a lot of the environments are quite dingy, and perhaps covered with blood shed from past victims, but there's also a cool hue to many of the scenes that save it from being as relentlessly dour and murky as some of the other films.
You don't come to these movies for the acting, let's all admit that, but I'm happy to say that nobody stinks up the screen here. Rennie, Bennett, Passmore, and Anderson all have moments of being a bit over the top in acceptable ways, and Laura Vandervoort, Paul Braunstein, Mandela Van Peebles, and Brittany Allen actually do pretty solid work as some of the chosen players.
It's completely unnecessary, often a bit ridiculous, and a bit overly familiar in the many scenes that obviously nod and wink to past deathtraps . . . and I will happily buy a ticket whenever they decide to do another one, especially if it's once again helmed by the talented Spierig brothers.
Jigsaw is available to buy here.
Americans can get it here.