“If I’m honest, the bar of expectation that I’d mentally set for Jigsaw was not exactly towering above me – the giddy height of a croquet hoop would be more apt…”
Back in 1999 I recall sitting po-faced through an utterly unremarkable film that seemed interminable in its apparent nothingness. Not one to write anything off easily, at least until a fat lady has sung or the credits have rolled – and considering some of the cinematic dives that I used to frequent, there was probably an equally high chance of the former occurring – I stuck to the task manfully, and was amply rewarded for having done so.
The film? The Sixth Sense. A movie that was ultimately knitted together brilliantly by way of a twist at its conclusion that every man and his dog – bar me of course – claimed to have seen coming from an absolute mile off.
But what does this have to do with the latest chapter in the Saw franchise, I hear you ask? Well, in case you need it spelling out for you… that’s right, there’s a twist at the end of Jigsaw. There, I’ve said it. Have I spoilt it for you?
Before you bemoan my lack of tact, I guarantee you this: When you’re sitting through the aforementioned formulaic gore-fest, feeling as though you can’t go on, just going through the motions, tallying up the body count of umpteen two dimensional characters that you give not one shiny shite about and whom in some grizzly manner or other, have met their untimely demise, there will come a point when you’ll actually thank me for bestowing that particular nugget of information upon you. For against all odds, there is actually a reason to stick with Jigsaw.
Don’t get me wrong, this is no Sixth Sense and far from a The Usual Suspects – and I unrepentently reference this most excellent of Kevin Spacey-led films. I’m on a roll you see, and let’s not be rewriting film history now – but the final ten minutes of Jigsaw at least prove that its writers, Pete Goldberg and Josh Stolberg, saw fit to attempt something beyond the sort of linear prosaic banality that so frequently accompanies first sequels, let alone the eighth outing of a tired old horror franchise.
Directors Michael and Peter Spierig, on the other hand, engage in what can only be termed as ‘flying by the seat of your pants direction’, as they absolutely rattle through proceedings at break-neck pace, eager to get to the conclusion it would seem, almost as though the bulk of the film’s content is something of a crushing inconvenience for them. In so doing, barely a moment is spent generating any worthwhile sense of suspense or terror, or indeed developing any of the characters and examining their varied back stories – which are, within context, in fact far more than just meaningless personal portraits, and rather integral as to why it is that they’ve come to find themselves entombed, bucket on head, at the business end of one of John Kramer’s (Jigsaw’s) warped games.
Still, in the grand scheme of things, it’s probably not worth worrying about too much, a little like 80% of this film, and in all honesty, to examine the remaining 20% of it would be to give the game away. So I’ll just leave it at that.
If I’m honest, the bar of expectation that I’d mentally set for Jigsaw was not exactly towering above me – the giddy height of a croquet hoop would be more apt – but it’s only fair to say that the Spierig brothers’ film somehow digs deep, summons its inner Sergey Bubka, and hauls itself over this most minimal of hurdles…