With the seventies came the era of the classic slashers. A time that could be argued began the descent down a particularly visceral rabbit hole. The arrival of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was arguably a flag bearer for this gruesome subgenre, birthing the slasher ethos.
Whilst reboots and slashers were still reigning throughout the mid two thousands. An incredibly macabre sub genre was bubbling away under the moniker of Torture Porn. Among the likes of Eli Roth’s Hostel and Wolf Creek lay a pioneer of the genre, SAW. A simple premise, two people chained up in a bathroom with a dead man at the centre, thats all we were allowed to know. Yet as the film wore on, we were welcomed into the wonderfully deranged world of SAW. A born again vigilante of sorts dealing out his own dose of justice. Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) was judge, jury and much to his chagrin definitely executioner.
Putting our unwitting subjects into a variety of traps that only the most deranged minds would be able to conceive, its popular opinion that the first three instalments remain the highest regarded. With a business that was cost effective owing to the stripped back approach of the low budget original this simplistic, industrial theme would be the film’s core. The series also raked in shedloads at the box office, the perfect combination for shameless sequels. Having trumped the Halloween box offices years in a row, the world of SAW fell silent after the final episode of Saw 3-D. By which time the franchise had well and truly exhausted all the avenues of Jigsaw trivia.
Reigniting the horrific fire Jigsaw sees Bell’s raspy voice return once more. With the knowledge that the worlds most infamous serial killer was killed way back in the third instalment of the franchise, Jigsaw throws you right back into the bloodied ring. Opening with a chase sequence that ends with the ominous statement “The games are just getting started” the scene is well and truly set. Cut to what has been the most popularised scene in trailers with all five people adorned with buckets on their heads being dragged towards horrendous spinning circular saws.
From here on in, the pressure doesn’t let up. Following on from previous SAW models, our protagonists are told to work as a team and “confess” to their various sins. Being shunted forward with the reliable tropes that you would expect in SAW, cue the classic “Play Me” tapes, tripwires and of course a cameo of Billy. The aim is to work together but as usual, that doesn’t quite go according to plan. Acting as a breather between the tense “games” there are two story arcs running simultaneously. The second illustrating the investigation behind Jigsaw’s recent victims with Detective Halloran at the helm.
I won’t go into specifics as I wouldn’t want to ruin any of the gory details, referencing the likes of classic SAW lore, its a fantastic ride for the fans of the original and doesn’t have the need for all seven to be watched beforehand. Working both in its own universe and the classic SAW franchise, Jigsaw succeeds at playing a war on two fronts. Injecting a new found element of humour into the performance, which does break up the relentless suffering that our protagonists go through. Making for a nice and unexpected breather for once! Particularly in the setting of the cinema which can be pretty full on!
No doubt there are going to be some disgruntled fans for the lack of injury and gore but personally I enjoyed the fact that for once SAW wasn’t simply all about torture porn. This doesn’t mean Jigsaw doesn’t throw some good punches in, however. A particularly gruesome cadaver is a highlight along with a man who is cut to ribbons. Known for their incredibly intricate plot lines, it has been hard to follow in the past. With Jigsaw, it might have been somewhat simplified yet herein lies its charm for me. Having loved the first three instalments, it would be a perfect introduction for someone who might be brought to the franchise for the first time. I would definitely recommend a viewing of it in the cinema for the sheer tension in the film. It might not be as gritty as its forebears but Jigsaw packs enough of a punch to satisfy fans and hopefully reel in some new Horror ghouls.
Taking this idea to extremes the fear that lies in the SAW franchise, brings this classic element of the slashers inescapable antagonist to have the same spirit yet not need to be physically present. The sense of the “chase” still remains yet perhaps could be seen as even more unforgiving as our heroes’ foes are not only the machines but themselves. Its an incredibly intriguing look into the psyche of human behaviour and the survival instinct and Jigsaw is just another bloody piece of the puzzle.
Rating : 4/5
Jigsaw is out now via Liongsate.