Seven years after Saw: The Final Chapter, and even longer since the title character died, horror cinema's most well-prepared killer returns for this soft reboot which clearly hopes to revive the franchise.
Aussie actor Matt Passmore (McLeod's Daughters, The Glades) plays a medical examiner encountering a series of cadavers which bear the markings (literal and otherwise) of John Kramer, aka the Jigsaw Killer, a long-dead moralising mass murderer famous for subjecting his victims to viciously cruel "games" which almost always result in multiple dismemberments.
Canadian character actor stalwart Callum Keith Rennie (Californication) is the investigating detective, and Laura Vandervort (Supergirl from Smallville) leads a group of people experiencing Jigsaw's latest game.
This film is directed by Australian film-makers Michael and Peter Spierig, who last gave us the underrated sci-fi thriller Predestination (2014) and they bring a little more thoughtfulness and directorial flair to the franchise than audiences have come to expect, with the vast majority of Saw entries being little more than a succession of increasingly grisly set-pieces.
Despite this mild elevation in quality, Jigsaw can't help but feel a little out of place amongst the current horror boom. The emphasis on physical violence highlights how horror has evolved beyond torture porn and now rely relies on slightly esoteric ideas to create tension. There's a sense that the film knows this as well, as it doesn't lean into the violence as strongly as previous entries.
Still, anyone nostalgic for the the unique "pleasures" of the Saw franchise will find plenty to enjoy here, and there's some degree of creativity displayed in the various devices on display. At one point during a game that takes place in a barn, a tractor is tantalisingly glimpsed, but it sadly in plays no role in any subsequent dismemberments. A missed opportunity for sure.
Tobin Bell, Matt Passmore, Laura Vandervort
Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
R18 (Torture & sadistic violence)
: Grisly fun for fans. Others stay away.
Did You Know?
The Saw horror franchise was supposed to wrap up with 2010's Saw 3D: The Final Chapter. After considering a series reboot for a number of years, the studio instead decided to continue telling Jigsaw's story, and gave him top billing for the very first time.