New on BluRay from Lionsgate Home Entertainment; help me out and pick it up on DVD/BluRay here on Amazon!
aka SAW VIII
Directed by Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
Written by Pete Goldfinger, Josh Stolberg
Starring Matt Passmore, Callum Keith Rennie, Hannah Emily Anderson, Clé Bennett, Laura Vandervoort, Paul Braunstein, Mandela Van Peebles, Brittany Allen, Josiah Black, Edward Ruttle, Michael Boisvert, Sam Koules, Troy Feldman, Shaquan Lewis, Misha Rasaiah, Keeya King, Ryan Manning,
& Tobin Bell as Jigsaw!
I’ve seen a couple of SAW films. One of these days, I’ll take a deep dive into the franchise and rewatch them all. I was hoping that watching this modern update of SAW, retitled to represent the mastermind behind the mechanations Jigsaw (played by Tobin Bell), might prompt me to do so. But even though this time there is a pair of talented directors at the helm in the Spierig Brothers, there was nothing but convolution and a huge requirement to suspend any and all disbelief in order to make until the end with this JIGSAW.
A group of people wake up and find themselves in the middle of a house of horrors filled with contraptions and death traps that whittle their number down one by one. Meanwhile, a police squad feverishly investigates to find the missing people outside and track down the killer known as Jigsaw, who everyone believes has been long dead.
For the most part, the story itself is a wash-rinse-repeat version of the other bazillion SAW films with two different storylines playing out in tandem leading to one point where the two meet. What makes this film different is to find a way for Jigsaw to actually be alive and still dangerous since he has been long dead, autopsied, and buried in previous entries. I found the answer to be mildly interesting as a casual SAW watcher and I guess, if you’re a die hard follower of this film series, you’re bound to be intrigued here as well. But I was hoping for something a bit smarter since this is a film coming from the filmmakers behind such modern genre classics as UNDEAD, DAYWALKERS, and the truly exceptional PREDESTINATION. But this feels much more like a film made as a stepping stone for the Sperig Brothers so that they can have more freedom with a bigger budget film. Unfortunately, that film wasn’t WINCHESTER, since that film was a bit of a dud as well, which leads me to the conclusion that the filmmakers are much more exceptional with a more limited budget.
I can’t blame the Sperig Brothers for the banality of this series though. It is an ok installment that plays as more of a rollercoaster ride than the torture porn that the film series turned into. There’s a lot of movement in and out and all over the place with the camera, giving the film more energy than one might expect and the elaboration of the death traps are upped a notch. I especially liked one involving a neck shackle armed with lasers which split a head like a cantaloupe. So those who come for the gore have some nice wet stuff to enjoy.
While this is a more vibrant and almost upbeat reiteration of the dark and torturous series, when all the bells and whistles are taken away, it’s the same old story. The twist is fun, but I don’t think they’d be able to pull it off again. Then again, this series doesn’t seem to have an ending and as long as Lionsgate has a few bucks and Tobin Bell needs to eat, I guess there’ll be more to come. JIGSAW is a worthy installment that most likely was made to steer the series in a more mainstream direction with its focus on elaborate traps and rollercoaster action rather than gruesome torture. It surely isn’t grand horror cinema, but as far as SAW movies go, this one fits in just fine.
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