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Jigsaw (R)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

11/02/17
By Amy Diaz adiaz@hippopress.com



Jigsaw (R)

Horror franchises are apparently unkillable, so suggests Jigsaw, the eighth movie in the Saw universe.
And even if you killed him off movies ago, your main character can still make a showing, so proves John Kramer, a.k.a. Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), the murderer behind the dumb bicycle-riding clown toy and the overly elaborate killing methods that supposedly give his victims a chance to atone for their sins. When police start finding mangled bodies with Jigsaw markings, they wonder if Kramer, who died a decade earlier, has a copycat.
Intercut with the extremely shoddy investigative work of Detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) and only marginally less shoddy work of Detective Hunt (Clé Bennett) are scenes of five (and then four and then three...) people chased through a death maze by Jigsaw’s voice and booby traps. Medical examiner Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore) and his weirdo assistant Eleanor (Hannah Emily Anderson) eventually confirm that DNA found on one victim matches the long-dead Kramer. Is he killing from beyond the grave? Or is Kramer’s method being used by another, perhaps another one of the very few characters the movie bothered to think up and give a name to?
What kind of movie is Jigsaw really? “Horror” seems to be the consensus but, once you get beyond the presence of rusty farm implements and low lighting, there’s nothing very horror-like about Jigsaw. (“Horrible” yes — the acting, the writing, the plot.) The shtick of the elaborate death-o-matics is that they nearly always kill somebody. So there’s no real suspense about whether or not people will die. I guess you could say there’s a mystery in who is the secret Jigsaw follower; for most of the sequels the Kramer character has had at least one accomplice (being dead for several movies requires you to delegate). Except the movie’s actors are not nearly skillful enough to pull off the “maybe they are or maybe they’re not a killer” vibe. They all seem to be sketchy weirdos and the movie doesn’t figure out how to make me care which sketchy weirdo might be a murderer.
There’s also nothing particularly scary about Jigsaw. It doesn’t shock, even in the cheap jump-scare way. It doesn’t make the shadows scary or make you think about the terror of “pure evil,” the way even a just-OK horror movie like Annabelle: Creation does. In this age of smarter horror (your Get Out or your Happy Death Day) it feels very strange, very early 2000s to see a horror movie that doesn’t try to do anything other than just kill unmemorable people in overly fussy ways. D-
Rated R for grisly bloody violence, and torture, and for language, according to the MPAA. Directed by Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig with a screenplay by Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg, Jigsaw is an hour and 31 minutes long and distributed by Lionsgate Film. 

 






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