After a hiatus, John Kramer (a.k.a. The Jigsaw Killer, a.k.a. didn’t that guy die back in part 3?) has returned despite no one really asking him to and he’s brought that weird pig mask, Billy the puppet, endless tape recordings of his raspy voice and a host of new flesh rending, bone snapping traps with him, making a mockery of the bold, final chapter claims of the previous entry. But hey, you ain’t a TRUE horror franchise unless you have at least one final chapter entry under your belt, right? Nightmare On Elm Street has one and Friday The 13th has TWO for christ’s sake, so this is surely a badge of honour of SOME kind, yeah?
Well… yes AND no…

This, for better or worse, is very much a Saw film of old with the plot being predictable in just how UNpredictable it’s trying to be. C-List actors weave in and out of a labyrinthine plot, while their number rapidly reduces thanks to various home-made, spikey, death dealing tetanus factories that are specifically built to test how much of a total scum fuck it’s victims actually are. Meanwhile other C-List actors, playing hugely unprofessional detectives or coroners (or coroner’s ACTING like detectives) desperately try to unravel the mess of flashbacks and music video editing to try to figure out who the fuck did what to who and why before the big twist at the end renders everything completely moot. Is Jigsaw still alive? Is it one of his many acolytes, or is it maybe someone new? Red herrings, double crosses and fake outs are deployed at dizzying speed with varying degrees of success and that refuse to hold up under mere seconds of casual scrutiny as everything from the character’s backgrounds to the very time frame we’re watch are all hugely suspect despite the fact that many of the more outlandish twists have already been attempted in previous intallments.
When dealing with franchises with high numbers of entries, I personally find it beneficial to rank their worth against other films of the same series (it’s not like you would rank this against The Godfather or something) and judged purely by these terms Jigsaw does fairly well, sitting somewhere snugly in the middle. Somewhat of a greatest hits of Saw’s past, this eighth (!) exercise in extreme justice through self mutilation is definately better than the narcolepsy inducing 5th entry despite this newest entry ironically employing a similar “group running a merciless gauntlet in a trap house” theme as that sequel. A bunch of rude, sweaty arseholes wake up with buckets strapped to their heads and chained to a wall of bandsaws and then their evening rapidly goes downhill from there in ever dependable bursts of blood spraying torture porn. Bodies are mangled, sliced and, in one showstopping set piece, a head (bisected by fucking lasers of all things) satisfyingly peels into separate quadrants like a brain-filled Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

Employing the Spierig Brothers, directors of Daybreakers, seems like an intelligent and welcome move toward freshness, but their style very much harkens back to previous Saw’s which is a shame considering they had a chance to takes things somewhere slightly different visually speaking. Plus, considering they also made the little seen and utterly brain frazzling time travel movie, Premonition, you’d hope that their plot twist game would be a little stronger than the standard double cross/hidden agenda virtually every Saw movie has done to death.
If you aren’t a fan of the Saw saga (and if you’re not, why the hell have you: A) watched the movie in the first place and: B) read this damn far?) this obviously won’t be your cup of tea ,and if you ARE a fan this is simply decent example of a saga that, like John Kramer’s legacy, simply refuses to curl up and Die for good. Yes, initially, it’s fun to be back in this rusty cruel world of endless wailing and saliva spraying pleas for mercy, but to be honest, I dont really think anyone would really want to do this all again annually for ANOTHER 6 years? God knows what Chris Rock is going to have to do to make the upcoming Spiral stand out…
Bottom line, all boasts of a rebirth ultimately fall flat with a final result that’s enjoyable but most definitely not essential.

Do you still want to play a game? You do? Then may I suggest Mousetrap instead…

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