Few surprises in grisly game
Seven years on from his ‘final’ chapter, serial killer-with-adifference Jigsaw makes a not-so-surprising comeback – or does he?
Part of the intrigue behind the eighth Saw movie is whether Tobin Bell’s moral madman is truly back from the dead, or if we are now dealing with a copycat.
Needless to say, you will not find the answer to that question here; all I will reveal is that we are once again presented with another group of questionable characters being put through a series of deadly games while a police and forensic team investigate a grisly body count.
Writing duo Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg (Piranha 3D, Sorority Row) are clearly fans of the Saw franchise as they know exactly what their audience wants, but fail to add much in the way of freshness or originality to the franchise.
The Spierig Brothers – who previously helmed creative sci-fi Predestination and disappointing vampire actioner Daybreakers – also shoot in a perfunctory style lacking in the series’ trademark rock video-like aesthetics and editing.
Beyond Jigsaw’s minor one-scene upgrade from cassette tapes to a USB and an ill-advised late use of CGI blood and gore, there’s not much to differentiate between this and the first Saw film back in 2004.
But, as a fan of much of the franchise, it was nice to see it resurrected in a watchable, interesting fashion that helps get rid of the horrible taste left behind by previous entry Saw 3D.
The main group of five victims do little more than scream a lot and stumble from one lifethreatening scenario to the next, but Laura Vandervoort’s Anna is given a harrowing back story and Paul Braunstein (Ryan) revels in selfish behaviour and spurting the odd knowing joke.
Callum Keith Rennie’s Detective Halloran is a worthy addition to the series’ best cops and even just hearing Bell’s husky tones sends shivers down spines.
Speaking of spines, bodies are pulled, twisted and wrenched in all sorts of directions and gruesome injuries will leave some covering their eyes.
There is no escaping the fact, though, that as nasty as some of the traps are, there is nothing that can hold a bear trap or syringe pit to the series’ sickening best.
The same can be said for the movie’s final twist – a staple of any Saw flick. One or two smaller elements of the story surprise, but the climactic disclosure is much easier to see coming than, say, the first two films’ big reveals.
However, it does leave the franchise in a better place than Saw 3D and there is scope for further sequels to come.
Jigsaw will not convert many who have previously avoided the Saw movies like the plague, but there’s enough to stir fans’ nostalgia and whet their appetites for more grisly game-playing.
Caught in a trap Vandervoort gets pushed to the limit