I have some friends who are super into ‘Escape Room’ puzzles. I kind of wished they were with me when I saw “Jigsaw”, so they could offer me some tips on the fastest escape route from the cinema. It’s not quite cut-your-own-foot-off-to-avoid-watching bad, but it’s pretty close.
Ten years after the notorious serial killer Jigsaw’s death, mutilated dead bodies start turning up across the city. Detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) is called to a standoff where one of his informants is holding a trigger device and told that the games have begun again. Soon, mutilated dead bodies start turning up across the city and all the evidence points to the notorious serial killer Jigsaw – who has been dead for ten years.
Opening with a car chase that for some reason looks so obviously a film set I fully expected a pull back to reveal an in-movie camera crew, “Jigsaw” quickly assembles its cast of stupid cops, stupider medical examiners and unlikeable victims and then proceeds to start offing them one by one. The Rube Goldberg-esque death machines are pretty underwhelming and far less impressive than the remarkable fortitude shown by Jigsaw’s victims given their many lacerations and stab wounds.
The acting on offer runs the gamut from fair through adequate to downright terrible, especially Jigsaw super fan medical examiner Eleanor Bonneville (Hannah Emily Anderson) who delivers a performance so uneven and flat, it’s like she wandered in after being left unsupervised on the set of a SyFy Original movie.
I haven’t seen any of the previous “Saw” films, but their reputation preceded them and if it seems unfair to jump on board a horror franchise in its 8th instalment and put the boot it, it’s a sign of how disappointed I was by the flaccid guignol on offer. The film’s one saving grace is that it does have a pretty clever twist up its sleeve to explain Jigsaw’s presence despite his death some ten years earlier and, if I’m being honest, it’s made me curious to now go back and check out the other movies, so it’s not a complete loss. Overall, though, “Jigsaw” is as satisfying as a puzzle with a couple of pieces missing.