Cast: Matt Passmore, Tobin Bell, Callum Keith Rennie, Laura Vandervoort, and Hannah Emily Anderson
Directors: Michael and Peter Spierig
92 minutes (18) 2017
Widescreen ratio 2.35:1
LionsGate Blu-ray region B
Review by Steven Hampton
After seven movies in just seven years, the profitable franchise launched by James Wan’s Saw (2004) continues, seven years later, with this picture that revisits the shock scenario, while trying hard to avoid the series’ usual claustrophobic torture-porn brand, as identified by critics yet disputed by the record-breaking franchise's creators. “I’m sure you’re all wondering why you’re here.”
Five victims wake up with chained buckets stuck on their heads include blonde-in-fishnets Carly, who soon suffers a gruesome death, and she’s not even the first spectacular mutilation in this dark thriller. A new game of mortal adversity is on, with everything set-up once again to expose and judge the personal histories of those who practice “reckless deceit,” without considering the consequences of their actions.
Police detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) investigates a very public body-dump site and struggles to solve the mystery, “chasing a dead man,” before a farm-based set of ingenious death traps claim other lives. Are the guilty parties ready to die for their sins? Anna (Laura Vandervoort) seems to be the most likely heroine - or final-girl survivor, at least - but you can take your pick of the available key roles for her to play in this grisly game of twisted terrorism as the most savvy of the repeatedly endangered captives, despite being the first to ask that most clichéd question of all in today's horror movies, “why are you doing this to me?!
Hannibal Lecter kills because people are rude. Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) prefers to punish all those who are liars. Perhaps, from a moral perspective, rather than a homicidal maniac’s view of society, the obviously villainous Jigsaw appears closer to Marvel comic-book anti-hero the Punisher than the splatter cycle’s infamous serial killer. This feels like a fresh version, rather than another sequel, or a remake. In a plot so full of witty diversions, slickly clever twists, and sundry potential copy-cats, with borrowings, story parallels, and police procedural influences drawn from Seven, and The Usual Suspects (both 1995). “You have a choice. Scream or don’t.”
Although this movie’s physical tests and psychological traumas engage viewers with the suffering of humanity in an inhumane age, a fairly radical new industrialisation of horror (a media project begun by sci-fi cinema's trope of man-vs-machine back in the 1950s) is apparent, especially in terms of rusty metal contraptions signifying a fittingly automated punishment that mirrors the decayed morals of all those being tormented by Jigsaw. The surrealistic pick of these fatal mechanisms is the spinning ‘spiraliser’, a designer’s tribute to the red spiral mark painted on the ‘Billy’ puppet’s cheeks. Colourful, without becoming too garish in its extremes of black comedy, the luridly macabre Jigsaw is a worthwhile addition to the popular cycle of techno-shock.
Documentary, I Speak For The Dead: The Legacy Of Jigsaw (82 minutes) is mainly composed of interviews about the making of this movie, rather than anything like a retrospective feature study.