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Jigsaw (2017) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


JigsawIf it’s Halloween, then it must be Saw. That was the slogan for one of the most successful horror franchises that began in 2004. It would go on to last seven films in seven years back to back. Then in 2010 the franchise would say its goodbye with ‘Saw 3D‘ (aka Saw: The Final Chapter) as the makers began losing ideas and the rise of another popular franchise was at hand. But seven years later we see ourselves facing the return of one of the most prolific horror icons in some time with ‘Jigsaw‘ as the Spierig Brothers helm the project.

It’s been 10 years since the death of John Kramer and bodies are beginning to show up with evidence pointing to Jigsaw himself. As Detective Holleran investigates the crime scenes a deadly game has begun as five victims must fight their way to freedom. Is it possible that the Jigsaw killer has arisen from the grave? Or is the possibility of a follower hoping to resurrect a legacy of carnage.

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As an avid fan of the original Saw film the series would go on to make six sequels thereafter. Up until ‘Saw III‘ you could justify or argue if the series should have ended with the death of John Kramer. However, the series continued and Costas Mandylor (Detective Hoffman), would carry the franchise all the way till the end. I enjoyed all the Saw films and what made the series so special was the fact that it tried to be different from all the other horror franchises in existence. With a complex story arc and returning characters there was a consistency with the series. And it must be said the composer for all the movies, Charlie Clouser, did an amazing job in utilizing alternative themes within each entry.

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With the announcement of Lionsgate returning to the Saw series in 2016 there were mixed feelings and were more negative than positive. All I asked myself was why? Obviously it’s a cash grab for the studio but as a fan of the series there wasn’t really any more story left to tell after ‘Saw 3D‘. It may have been the worst entry in the franchise but the twist ending provided a somewhat satisfying closure. By returning seven years later the movie would have to be a game changer and with a purpose. Unfortunately, all of my worst fears came true and even left me in anger after the movie had ended.

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The movie has the feel of a Saw film. The differences are mostly aesthetic and this time we escape from the dark and dingy hallways to more of the outside. Sort of like what we had seen in ‘Saw 3D‘ but more so. Now let’s get to the traps. They are no different this time around and can even be described as being less convoluted. I would actually say there weren’t any stand out traps. And finally the story element. We get to see a lot of the investigation aspect with the detectives; including Holleran. There comes a point when paranoia begins to build up and fingers being pointed in different directions as possible accomplices. And of course the almighty question that gets brought up and looms over the entire movie is if John Kramer has actually come back from the grave.

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We now get to the ending and the twist of the movie. As with all Saw films there’s an element of surprise as typically a montage would follow. But the twist in ‘Jigsaw‘ is but a summation of why this movie shouldn’t have taken place. It’s no different from any of the previous movies although it does add backstory to Jigsaw. Yet the revelation falls flat and feels like a desperation move by the studio to continue the franchise. To the general audience who may not have seen any of the Saw films going back 13 years the reaction may be different. As a reboot it may bode well with the newer audiences. But for the loyal fans of the series it may generate a negative reaction and maybe to the point of infuriating.

For the acting, I didn’t mind most of the detectives. As for the five victims who awaken in a barn they start off strong but then eventually fall into cliched hollow characters that when they die you have no feel for them. Tobin Bell, a.k.a Jigsaw, was good although his screen time wasn’t all that memorable but it was nice to see him reprise his role once again as the iconic villain. As a return to the franchise the movie was a total let down and completely unnecessary. Depending on whether the movie does well at the box-office I fear that more sequels may be in the works. Ultimately, ‘Jigsaw‘ should’ve stayed buried.

Rating: 5/10

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What do you think of ‘Jigsaw‘? Do you plan on watching the movie? Comment below and share your thoughts.

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Saw II (2005) Review

MV5BOTRjMDNmNjctNjg4ZC00N2ZkLThkMzMtOWRmYTFhMzA1ZDZlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTIzOTk5ODM@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Jigsaw is back and this time a new game is being played in the sequel to its predecessor. As Detective Matthews discovers the body of a close friend/informant he is thrust into a game of survival. And this time his patience is tested as his son, Daniel, is trapped. Can Eric Matthews find his son in time before it’s too late? Or does Jigsaw have something up his sleeve that turns the game upside down?

The director this time around and who would go on to direct the next two sequels is Darren Lynn Bousman. Being a first time director may not have been the only challenge going into ‘Saw II‘, but moreso asking how do we follow-up to such a smart and visceral original idea. Focus this time around was putting the villain out there on center stage. Actor Tobin Bell returns to play John Kramer (a.k.a Jigsaw) who now has the opportunity to show who he really is about versus lying on the floor for an entire first film.

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What I really enjoyed about ‘Saw II‘ was not only how we’re watching the chaos unfold but rather seeing through the eyes of Jigsaw himself. Instead of Jigsaw being this escapable superhuman character we get a deep and telling account of a terminally ill individual whose agenda is to help heal the wounds of the lost through unorthodox methods. Taking into account the things we take for granted in life and those who we hurt in the process all plays into how John Kramer spends his limited time left before his eventual demise.

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This time around our main player in the game is Donnie Wahlberg as Detective Eric Matthews and his involvement in the police force. His relationship with his son Daniel is shaken to its core and Jigsaw takes note of it. By capturing his son, Eric must play a game with John Kramer in order to see his son again. The game itself is centered around Eric’s weakness and his unwillingness to listen. With time ticking away you watch Eric Matthews get more and more desperate and thus falls into his old habits that has got him into this situation in the first place. Very few movies had the courage to bring the villain out into the open. Give credit where credit is due ¬†however as Darren Lynn Bousman steered the carnage and suspense through the lens.

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There are two separate events happening at the same time and we shift between the two story arcs in intricate fashion. One in the which we’ve already spoken about in Jigsaw and Eric Matthews but the other is centered around eight individuals who awaken in a room where they have limited time to locate serums before a deadly toxin poisons them. Included in the group is Daniel Matthews, son of Eric, as he becomes the link to everyone in the group as to why they’ve assembled there. The group dynamic is interesting because everyone is in the same situation yet everyone seems to turn on each other.

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Now it’s time to discuss the traps in the film because after the original movie audiences remembered the inventiveness of some of the obstacles characters found themselves in. This time around the traps are more intricate yet relatively simple as compared to the reverse bear trap as seen with Shawnee Smith who played Amanda. Probably the most memorable trap that made everyone squirmish was the needle pit. When Amanda was thrown in against her will and fell onto the needles it just brought a reaction by audiences that would terrify them if they ever saw a needle again. Other mentionable traps included a furnace where only the devil could help you out and a box in which a certain person puts their arms through it leads to a miserable time.

The sequel not only solidifies the traps in the franchise but also the twists as well. In ‘Saw II’ we get a twist that not only sets up for the sequel but also gives a revelation on what Jigsaw’s master plan is. Not only is the sequel a great one but it sets the mark that Saw is a legitimate franchise with a memorable character in Jigsaw who has more story to tell. Tobin Bell plays a character ¬†who is eerie yet resonates with audiences as it relates to how society treats the terminally ill. Composed as a fictional character he resonates on many levels as future installments will explore. If you thought the sequel was terrifying just wait till we talk about ‘Saw III’ as it will open the world of Jigsaw to a whole other level.

Rating: 7/10

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What do you guys think of ‘Saw II‘? How does it compare to the original and was this the jumping point for the Jigsaw character? Comment below and share your thoughts.