By Bartosz Szarek (Nowy Sącz, Poland)
It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over
Tobin Bell is a living example of the fact that mouth operates faster than the brain. In an interview, he called the Spierig Brothers’ Jigsaw (2017) “a ground-breaking film”. Seven years after the premiere of Saw 3D (2010, K. Greutert), the seventh installment in the Saw franchise, these words sound at least idiotic. I feel that generous payoff, hidden mental illness or rough narcotic-alcoholic kick could only justify Bell’s statement. However, if you have other suggestions? Post comments.
In the eighth installment of the Saw franchise, a psychopathic serial killer nicknamed Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is “back in town”, playing sick games despite his apparent death ten years earlier. Once again a new batch of victims fight to survive his choices-of-conscience-twisted games, are forced to make difficult moral decisions; the detectives, as always, must use their intellect to decipher the clues and solve the crime, as well as deal with the improbability of Jigsaw’s resurrection…
Saw (2004) by James Wan was a specific novelty. And although the film which proved to be more a survival thriller rather than pureblood horror, it gave rise to the brutal series of “torture porn”, with any subsequent sequel more disappointing, directed at providing the viewer blood, tears and desperation-filled exploitative medium. Early fascination with the film cycle and numerous divagations on to what direction should it go in the blink of an eye vanished into thin air, giving way to hallucinatory sequence context and method of killing the main characters. The seventh part could have proven landmark scene, issued in 2D and 3D versions, but besides technological novelty the film constituted only a sad re-run. Failure in the box-office as well as poor records when it comes to the viewers and critics resulted in closure of the Saw franchise.
Seven-year separation was to arouse not only interest but also some hopes for new deal, new quality. Not at all. Jigsaw directed by Spierig brothers is not original in regard of film predecessors. It is derivative, boring and just as needed to the viewer as nightmare. The same form, the same pace, way of weaving story elements, true-detectives consisting of the same prefabricated elements as their prequel fellows, complete lack of concept for bloody traps and traditional, explaining all the fiction “twists” ending for the poor. If you expect from Jigsaw a refreshing breeze, heavy emotions or revolution display you will be quite disappointed.
Jigsaw is not the worst part of the series, but the most unnecessary. The film’s ending leaves nothing which would be clearly indicative of continuation. And this is the only positive thing here. “Torture porn” petered out since the end of the last decade, and died soon after. It is now seven years. Exhumation, which was performed on the genre by the authors, has revealed no abnormality (such as this from their film). Too bad. In the coffin in which John Kramer was buried, the same, intact and not trumped remains of enigmatic and brilliant at the same time über-psychopath are resting. This is not the genre revival – only cheap epigonism. For me the case is closed.
John Kramer: Now the game is simple. Best ones are. You want mercy? Play by the rules.
Det. Keith: Any identification on the victim?
Forensic Specialist #1: A puzzle piece.
Halloran: But Jigsaw has been dead for ten years.