If you told me seven years ago after walking out of Saw 3D that we would ever be getting another Saw film I’d have said you were crazy. But here we are, seven years later, on Halloween, and I’ve just walked out of Jigsaw, the 8th film in the series and despite my recent concerns that it was going to suck I fucking loved this movie. In this instalment John Kramer is long dead and his games are over, that is until a team of detectives get wind that a new game is being played and thus begins their investigation to find the location of the game and the person behind it. Is John really dead? Or has he come back to test more potentially unworthy people? The plot of the film follows a mostly familiar structure you’d recognise if you are familiar with the previous instalments, you have the main trap, the investigation, and all of the mysteries that lie within. Although not everything here is executed cleanly, the first act is a mess and I was finding it really hard to enjoy myself. Then the second act picks itself up and had me very happy Saw is back, and by the time we made it to the third act I was fucken excited Saw is back.
Lets get right into the characters and performances shall we as we have an entirely new cast both in the trap storyline as well as on the law enforcement side of things. Overall the performances are pretty good, there are a few moments of dialogue which are not well written but that doesn’t undercut some of the performances. As far as those in the main game are concerned Laura Vandervoort who plays Anna is the only one I really feel some sort of attachment to and is the strongest performer of the bunch. She sells the desperation and horror of being caught in Jigsaw’s trap greatly. Paul Braunstein plays Ryan, another victim of the game and he is someone whose performance develops to where he too sold the horror elements very well. Mandela Van Peebles and Brittany Allen play Mitch and Carly respectively in Jigsaw’s trap and they were some of the least interesting characters as much of the talking is done by Anna and Ryan. None of these characters have any sort of backstory established and although they try provide reasons for their presence it never really catches on so I guess that leaves a large hole in each of the game subjects.
In the other half of the film a team of detectives are trying to solve the mystery surrounding the bodies that are showing up led by Detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) and with the help of Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore) and Eleanor Bonneville (Hanna Emily Anderson) in the morgue. I have to say I quite liked all of these characters by the time the third act rolls around, I mean, they are still fairly thinly written characters with backstories they drop in brief conversations but they all served their purpose in the plot to a satisfying level. The performances behind the roles were fine, none of them were really called upon to do anything spectacular but they delivered their dialogue well and kept me engaged so that’s a plus. The film is also directed by the Spierig brothers who previously directed Predestination (2015), a sci-fi film that I loved, and they did a great job here at capturing the essence of the Saw franchise and successfully tying everything together and presenting a mostly well orchestrated product for a new/returning audience.
Now as far as the story goes, as I mentioned earlier the first act failed to grab me, the film definitely takes a bit of time to find its tempo. It spends the first act trying to find a way to set up the new game, set up the investigative side, and get people back into the groove of watching Saw again after seven long years and it doesn’t do a great job at all. It’s jumping all over the place and dropping a tonne of knowledge on your head without giving much context to anything going on. But beyond this point it composes itself, slows down a touch, and starts to focus on fewer key plot points in greater detail and that’s when things started getting intense. It gradually builds with the horror and the suspense and through this second act it manages to capture the tone of the previous Saw films almost to a tee. Then you get to the third act and by then it has fully developed into the Saw sequel I wanted it to be and if the theatre was empty I’d have been jumping with joy…… but on the inside I definitely was. The traps are great for the most part, some a little farfetched in concept but if you came for the blood and gore they will deliver you a very good amount of that.
So in the end as a long time Saw fan I fucking loved this movie which brings back most of what was great in the previous instalments and takes the plot to places I never thought it would go. It isn’t a film that will all of a sudden make you a Saw fan if you weren’t before, if you loved Saw in the past this will provide you with more of what you love. If you couldn’t stomach the blood and gore before this is in no way any easier to handle. Aside from a messy first act I thoroughly enjoyed myself with these characters, performances, and this story which fits tightly within a perfect 90 minute timeline.