“Let’s Play A Game”, those simple words haunted the theaters for years, signaling the start of yet another slasher movie in the Saw series. What started out as a unique twist to the serial killer saga was only the start to a face cringing, spine tingling, sometimes nauseating saga that hooked people in until around the sixth-seventh iteration when it finally ended. That was until this year, where the saga was to be reanimated in hopes of bringing more bucks to the theaters. Will this eighth installment have the ability to defy death like it’s protagonist antihero, or is it dead like the poor victims of his games. Only one way to find out and that is read my friends, so let’s get started!
Fast-Pace: With all the slow movies I have been seeing, I give props to the Saw series maintaining their consistent pace. From start to finish, the tale keeps moving, sparing no second for unnecessary details or attempts at prolonged character development. The mystery of figuring out the identity of the game master, mixed with the spread-out trials that promise a messy end are well-balanced to keep things going.
Decent Characters: A horror movie often has many brain-dead characters begging to be chainsaw fodder. Fortunately, Saw movies continue to choose players who have a little more complexity and skills than many of the Spring Break teens favored. The tradition lives on, as each player has a little more buried within, still having a few obviously destined corpses, but others who have a shot at making it out. And for those not in the game, but trying to solve the mystery, they too have some layers to them that may or may not be pertinent to the story. It’s those engaging elements that are crafted in the story, making them more engaging to follow.
The Presentation: Another component I still like is the presentation of the movie. Many go for the kills, but the better component for me is how they separate the story into two settings. One is still the players trying to escape the closes thing to hell’s torture chamber, while the other are the outside characters hunting down the “maniac” that continues to weave his traps. The ability to entangle these two components, balancing their timing to provide clues and hints to the story all while keeping you invested in the game. Such a dynamic presentation provides those checks and balances necessary for a slasher movie, and keeping things as fresh as possible.
Twist: As many of you know, Saw movies are all about the ability to throw that last wrench into the gears to blow your mind. Despite my experience with predicting endings, this one got me. The questions I asked were on the right path, but they were able to drop enough interfering factors to throw me off the trail. Jigsaw once again impresses me with their storytelling, and their mastery of presentation. I can’t say much more, but ask the right questions and you might get the answers.
Lazy Deaths: Those first few movies were convoluted in their traps. They had designed devices that were an impressive display of imagination, horror, and engineering that gave everyone a kick in terms of design. While Jigsaw still has the impressive connections and storytelling, it unfortunately fails in the terms of the traps themselves. They are surprisingly simple for the most part, and a little more reserved than I expected in this modern era. Yes, there is still plenty of blood in this battle for moral consequences, but they didn’t involve quite as much skin crawling madness.
Acting a little cheesy: Despite the engaging characters, there are times when there are a few inconsistencies in the character’s intelligence, or often the case their acting. While decent for the most part, the writers hit some blocks in terms of dialogue or direction they wanted the characters to go. There are those moments the “tension” overwhelms them into hysterical messes that are cheesy rather than believable. In addition, the dialogue sometimes gets lazy, just going into expletives than conducive dialog. A weak dislike yes, but I’m drawing on straws.
The potential for a series: Like the original series, I had hoped for an ending, but then this movie showed up. While I did enjoy it, I am worried that the way this movie ends sets up the potential for a new series to start. Sure, this means more Saw goodness, but it also means the potential to dilute this movie into another run of the mill series that will become a product of lazy producing. Hopefully that won’t happen, but these days series are the prize most companies seek.
Jigsaw is the piece of the puzzle that brings quality back to the lovely massacre series. Going back to the roots, the writers were able to bring back a brilliant presentation and characters you can follow. All the nostalgic qualities rush in with the deadly traps, bringing that fast-pace, twisting tale that captivated us all those years ago. While still not the first movie, especially in terms of death design and potential to revive the series, it was a welcome addition to the series. So, if you are looking for the horror movie of the month, Jigsaw is your answer for the theater my friends.
Movie Overall: 7.0