Senior citizens shuffling into “Jigsaw,” expecting to see the latest puzzle boards are in for a surprise.
Indeed, the wicked games invented by moralistic serial killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) have returned. Though the rules are the same (“Live or die, the choice is yours”) the players have changed.
Five murder victims precisely match Jigsaw’s modus operandi 10 years after he died of cancer. A police investigation reveals that the only certainty about Jigsaw is uncertainty.
Unfortunately, directors Peter and Michael Spierig morph the eighth “Saw” installment into “CSI: Jigsaw.” The brothers authenticate the transition with eye-rolling forensic jokes, forced relationship drama and silly coincidences.
Though viewers should not expect Oscar-worthy writing, “Saw” films never have genre ambiguity.
Any fan knows that this series' signature is written in blood. Famous for brutal traps and gore, “Jigsaw” fails to satisfy the appetite for decapitation. Only one innovative effect exists — a head splitting six ways in slow motion. Overall, “Jigsaw” is the tamest “Saw” entry.
The horror that the Spierig brothers serve here is not very palatable: trap quality quickly deteriorates and a cast of unknown actors portray the tortured criminals.
“Jigsaw” had a $10 million budget. Conversely, “Sharknado” surfaces at 3:30 a.m. on SyFy and gets buried in $1 bargain bins.
In fairness, these actors are likely better than “Jigsaw” performances indicate. The script tries too hard to be clever.
Character development suffers as a result. Viewers learn who characters are, but only in brief, forgettable spurts. Quick pacing ruins any chance for cast chemistry.
The one actor providing a decent performance is Bell. Though he appears sporadically, Bell’s smooth yet shiver-inducing voice is a welcome detour from dullness. As the most recognizable man in modern horror, Bell has become this generation’s Vincent Price.
Another enjoyable aspect was the score. Though cheesy aspects detracted from atmospherics, a sensible score added proper tension when used.
Though most would end their praises there, this reviewer enjoyed subtle camera foreshadowing. For one second, the camera captured an item at the start of every scene that would be crucial later on. Perhaps a corny attempt at insulting audiences, the tactic still drew chuckles.
Laughter is the prevailing reaction. “Jigsaw” wears the “so bad it is good” badge bestowed upon most tired horror sequels.
By film eight: “Friday the 13th” jumped the shark with “Jason Takes Manhattan,” Freddy Krueger was dead and Michael Myers returned in what many consider the Halloween franchise's worst film “Halloween: Resurrection,” starring rapper Busta Rhymes.
“Jigsaw” felt like a Halloween blitz for box office treats. Regardless, this review should not trick anyone into thinking “Jigsaw” is the worst horror film out there.