Friday, 9 March 2018

Jigsaw ★★★☆☆

I want to play a game… again.

Can you believe it’s been almost 14 years since the first Saw film horrified cinemagoers? I feel so old.

In the subsequent years, we’ve seen multitude of sequels, all detailing the grizzly escapades of the sanctimonious serial killer John Kramer, better known as the Jigsaw Killer. 2010’s Saw 3D appeared to wrap up everything in a neat little package (not least because it was subtitled ‘The Final Chapter’), but it would appear a murderer’s work is never done with the release of Jigsaw bringing a whole host of traps to a new generation.

But will this reboot recapture the macabre magic of the first film, or fall apart like a malfunctioning reverse bear trap? Read on to find out.

The Good

I’m happy to report that if you’re looking for all the gruesome disembowelments, decapitations and bodily perforations that made the series one of the juggernauts of the horror genre, you won’t be disappointed. While the film might not top the gore-factor of the previous installments, it more than matches them; expect loss of limbs, acid injections and the partial removal of a head. Who’s hungry?

What’s more and quite surprisingly, we’re treated to a welcome dose of humour in Jigsaw. Whether it be one-liner quips or scenarios so ludicrous they’re almost played for laughs, it seems this is the first Saw film not to take itself too seriously, fully aware and proud of its preposterousness.

Finally, what makes Jigsaw so refreshing is that It strips back the conveluded plotlines that bogged down the later entries to what made the first handful of films so enjoyable: gore, inventive traps and a highly implausible yet entertaining twist.

The Bad

With that being said, it also inherits the flaws of the first films. Bland characters and plenty of gaps in logic mean this film won’t be nominated for an Oscar any time soon. Although this is excusable and not a prerequisite for enjoying this film, in an age when horror films are celebrated just as much for their engaging narrative as for their spooks, Jigsaw seems to be stuck in a bygone era.

Without revealing any spoilers, the ending opens the door for further sequels which probably means we’re going to see the law of diminishing returns in practice with a procession of inexorably worsening sequels. Not exactly a criticism of this film, but chalk it up as a perpetual negative point for future titles.

The Verdict 

For longtime fans of the series, Jigsaw is a welcome return to form for Kramer, Billy the Puppet and co., as we’re presented to a back-to-basics, if a little formulaic endeavour. For a genre defining piece of work, look elsewhere; for a bit of dumb fun, Jigsaw is king.

Sir Thomas Baker

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