It’s been seven years since the last set of Jigsaw murders. For seven whole years, the mantle has lain dormant, the games come to an end, our cinemas at last free of Tobin Bell’s posthumous pontificating. We had assumed that Lionsgate would wait at least ten years before the inevitable reboot. Patience not being a virtue of the movie executive (there’s a Saw sequel to be had in there somewhere), the franchise re-emerges, following in the footsteps of Logan, Rocky, and Rambo, with the killer’s name in the title and everything.
Still, seven years is long enough for audiences to have forgotten the many intricacies of the Saw timeline, and Jigsaw goes back to basics, dumping Amanda, the Hoffman saga and even Saw 3D’s cliffhanger. There’s a new game afoot, a fresh set of dead bodies and two cops trying to decode the riddle. Copycat? Hitherto unseen acolyte? John Kramer arisen from the dead? We saw his very dead body sliced open for autopsy in Saw IV, and it’s to Jigsaw’s credit that audiences still semi-expect to see the sanctimonious old coot resurrected.
That’s about the only credit Jigsaw does get though. Its central mystery is the worst ever concocted in the franchise’s history, playing second fiddle to the worst game Jigsaw (?) has ever played. As five strangers compete for their lives in a booby-trapped old barn, their bodies pop up all around town for two comically serious cops to track down and investigate. Whodunit? Unless you’re counting the John Kramer zombie theory, it’s a choice between four potential candidates, two of whom are only in the film to play blindingly obvious red herrings.
The traps are fine enough, if marred by obvious CGI, but this is the weakest story yet. Its plot twists are telegraphed and blatantly stolen from previous entries, the mechanics of the game ridiculously strained. It plays like a Saw fan film or pilot for a particularly bad TV show, lacking the viciousness or smarts that has always typified even the franchise’s worst entries. None of its tricks are its own, and the gratuitous Tobin Bell cameo feels forced and silly. It doesn’t even look like a proper Saw movie, being overlit and surprisingly lacking in gore. There’s nothing wrong with taking the franchise in a new direction, but this one looks cheap and tacky, like a straight to DVD/Netflix imitator.
For fans and newcomers alike, Jigsaw is a disappointment: this reboot has the worst story, the worst characters, the worst writing, the worst twists and the worst traps. Not only is this the worst Saw movie, it’s also one of the worst horror films in recent memory. Frankly, it’s just the worst.
JIGSAW / CERT: 18 / DIRECTORS: MICHAEL SPIERIG, PETER SPIERIG / SCREENPLAY: PETER GOLDFINGER, JOSH STOLBERG / STARRING: MATT PASSMORE, TOBIN BELL, CALLUM KEITH RENNIE, HANNAH EMILY ANDERSON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW