Jigsaw (2017): ‘Just When You Thought it was Dead’ – A Film Review


For about five years or so there was a Halloween tradition. Halloween meant a new Saw film. Saw was a film that received a lot of success for its psychological nature, twist ending and interesting theme. Rather than being killed the victims kill themselves through various intricate traps set up by the killer. Though this may not be all that new (Cube or Would You Rather), it certainly was done well and paved the way for many similar horror films to come – Hostel or Wolf Creek. Criticism of the film led to the subgenre to be referred to as ‘Torture Porn’ – where the victims pain and their gory suffering is a focal point of the film. After the success of the film, the filmmakers then planned a series of 8 films with the star Tobin Bell signing on to play ‘Jigsaw’ or John Kramer. SPOILERS FOR THE SAW SEQUELS: With the successful cop and serial killer story of the first film, providing twists and psychological depth to the games, this asset became a trap in itself. The sequels couldn’t continue to deliver on this and the strange decision was made, very early on in the franchise in Saw III, to kill the main antagonist ‘Jigsaw’. Making it harder to continue with the franchise as part of ‘Jigsaw’s legacy. Plot holes just piled up. END OF SPOILERS. The series then ended with Saw VII, seemingly due to the problems with the franchise and the lack of interest by this point. They had become poor imitations by this point. So it was surprising but perhaps hopeful when the saw franchise was continued with Jigsaw. Perhaps the name change looked to a refreshing change to the franchise as a finale.




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The Next Copy

For a film series that prides itself on the twists and the depth of the storyline, it would be very surprising to find a film that is very predictable. The characters are fairly unlikeable and play an interchanging red herring agenda with the spectators, so that you’re constantly aware that they’re all suspect. However, this is made very obvious to the point that it is clear that the film is setting you up. We also get a storyline that is essentially a re-tread of some of the earlier titles – Saw II and Saw V for example. This makes what could have been a great finale into another copy. Ironic because they toy with the idea of a copycat – which is probably the reason for the name change more than anything.


Oh, the horror!

So with a lot of films they sacrifice story and character for special effects and the general look of the film – whether cinematographyset designs or editing. Unfortunately, with Jigsaw, a film firmly rooted in the gore of the horror genre, we just see the film hold back. Many of the injuries and deaths cut away too early and will often be quick or unconvincing. A film that’s meant to be quite dark and gritty also feels at odds with itself with a rather bright colour palette. Sometimes there is an attempt at some of the looks created by earlier instalments in the franchise. We see the games set up in the types of places used for previous games. This keeps with the themes of the franchise and feels appropriate but these locations are almost background to the film, rather than a focal point.



In the end, this is just another Saw film. What started off as a great film has fallen into a franchise where we are saying it’s just another Saw film. In keeping in line with everything that the Saw franchise has become it fails to live up to expectations – even for a Saw film. Missing the point and lacking in originality to be anything other than just another Saw. The wait and the title lead the film into being perhaps the finale that Saw was looking to create in the franchise and it’s an opportunity completely disregarded by the film.

A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below for any who wish to see one.


After an incident where a criminal is accidentally shot, people keep turning up dead which seem to refer to ‘Jigsaw’ the serial killer who sets up traps or games for his victims; their first thoughts are that they’re a copy cat. Meanwhile five saw victims begin playing his games.


Films Mentioned

Cube (d. Vincenzo Natali Canada 1997)

Hostel (d. Eli Roth USA/Germany/Czech Republic/Slovakia/Iceland 2005)

Jigsaw (d. The Spierig Brothers USA 2017)

Saw (d. James Wan USA 2004)

Saw II (d. Darren Lynn Bousman USA/Canada 2005)

Saw III (d. Darren Lynn Bousman USA/Canada 2006)

Saw V (d. David Hackl USA/Canada 2008)

Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (d. Kevin Greutert USA/Canada 2010)

Wolf Creek (d. Greg McLean Australia 2005)

Would You Rather (d. David Guy Levy USA 2012)


 Further Reading



Official Site

Interview with The Spierig Brothers

Interview with Tobin Bell

Interview with Tobin Bell – Den of Geek

Behind the Scenes

Easter Eggs

Interview with James Wan and Leigh Wannall – Saw Creaters

The Complexity of the Saw Films

Torture Porn: Popular Horror after Saw

Saw 10 years later

The Rise of the Film Franchise


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This was an analytical review of….


Jigsaw (d. The Spierig Brothers USA 2017)

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