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This ‘Jigsaw’ piece begins a new puzzle

The Saw franchise is a divisive one. The fans can’t decide  which movies are worth watching, and the public often dismisses it based  off the subject material. While most horror films often rely on cheap  thrills and gruesome kills, the Saw franchise is a more story-focused series that follows a continuous plot. This is where Jigsaw separates itself from the rest of the series. While Jigsaw feels like a traditional Saw film,  its new cast of characters and timeline change cut off most connection  to the original series and make it feel like a tamer side of the same  coin.

Sequel or reboot?

Although the first movie is recognized as an unexpected masterpiece,  it is generally agreed that after the third movie the series took a turn  for the dumb. With plot holes galore and a timeline that grew so  convoluted it would put Christopher Nolan to shame, the series had  become nearly inaccessible to newcomers. Luckily, Jigsaw remedies  this problem by introducing a new cast of characters and only very  loosely tying the plot to the originals. Neither a full reboot nor a  sequel, Jigsaw strays away from the numbered series for good reason.

Image from Trailer Addict

Does Jigsaw attempt to fill in the plot holes? Nope, and  that’s perfect. While admittedly the film does try to connect to the  originals a little bit too much, it is a blast from start to finish and  one of the most entertaining movies of the season. Yet following the  trend of the previous films, Jigsaw produces its own plot holes and begins to fall apart when analyzed too hard.

Plot and characters

A man running from the police ends up on a roof where he presses a switch, consequently activating “the game”. This is where Jigsaw begins along with the story of five seemingly unrelated hostages. The story, in true Saw fashion, is split into two different points of view: the traps and the detectives.

With the Jigsaw Killer dead for over a decade, confusion strikes when  the traps begin again accompanied by tape recorders with his voice on  them. A detective joins forces with a coroner to decipher where this  game is taking place and how the victims of the game died. While the  characters in these scenes are interesting and generally likable, their  work feels fairly redundant as they analyze the bodies of the victims we  actively see die. While it  makes sense to add these scenes in the end,  it doesn’t change the fact that they drag. Luckily the payoff for this  plotline is worth it in the end as it comes to a thrilling conclusion.

Image from Lionsgate

While the police force works on finding the victims of the game, the  victims themselves attempt to survive the tests set before them.  Arguably the most interesting scenes in the film, the victims find  themselves being dragged forward into a wall of spinning blades (Saws if  you will) by a bucket on their heads. This scene brilliantly shows the  personality of each of the characters through their interactions, and  they develop throughout the film rather than just outright stating who  they are from the get-go. While it is apparent that these characters are  by no means perfect, they still come off as likable enough to root for  in the end.

The traps

Often the first thing people think of when the series is mentioned,  the traps are arguably what made the franchise so big in the first  place, and unfortunately they have been made much easier to watch. As  the titular Jigsaw Killer is known to do, a group of men and women are  kidnapped and placed in a room together where they will inevitably have  to mutilate themselves to escape.

The glaring issue regarding these traps is how tame they are compared  to the rest of the series. The new traps feel much more consumer  friendly than the visceral, gut-wrenching twists and breaks of the past  films, opting to replace these with clean slices and internal brutality.  Yet as tame as the traps are this time around, they are as creative as  ever. Futuristic lasers and Mission Impossible-esque sequences make these traps some of the most memorable in the series.

Was it a story worth telling?

Image from Lionsgate

A very hesitant yes, because this is definitely a story worth setting  up. With characters more interesting than many of the prequels and an  open-ended finale, there is life in the series yet. Jigsaw cut  out much of the ridiculous story that made the later films so goofy and  adopted a fresh start which works both in and against its favor. Much of  what made the past movies fun was piecing together the convoluted plot  and looking for the inevitable plot twist. Unfortunately, a rehashed  twist we have seen in the series before (many, many times as a matter of  fact) and a fairly straightforward plot drag the film down. Overall,  even though Jigsaw feels streamlined, the potential fresh take on the series is promising.

Featured image from INHDW

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