“Jigsaw,” the seventh sequel of the “Saw” series, directed by the German-born Australia brothers Michael and Peter Spierig, brings back another sequence that originates with a similar pattern. Another group of strangers have been kidnapped, and now must admit to committing crimes that only Jigsaw knows about. Unfortunately, nobody wants to confess their sins, not even at the point of dying.
In “Jigsaw,” you get two competing storylines: one is a locked room mystery set in an undisclosed barn, and the other is a police investigation of those farmyard slayings.
Unlike the typical “Saw” movies, “Jigsaw” carries out a superficially different plotline: it is not as sadistic. The earlier films focused mainly on the bloody scenes of breaking bones, squishing bodies, especially the helpless looks in the victims’ eyes. Yet, the victims in “Jigsaw” do not seem as frightened since they are already familiar with the deadly game. Rather, being chained to a wall of razor-sharp circular saws, they realize immediately that they are fighting for their lives. They appear calm since they only have a couple minutes to either obey the rules or have their bodies cut into half.
Serial killer John “Jigsaw” Kramer (franchise staple Tobin Bell) puts his victims through their worst nightmare of torture. John populates the farmhouse with bad people: his neighbor Anna (Laura Vandervoort), who kills her baby and frames her husband for the crime; Mitch (Mandela Van Peebles), who sells a faulty motorbike to John’s cousin, which ends up killing him; Ryan (Paul Braunstein), who causes the death of a car-load of people, by pratting around in his youth; Carly (Brittany Allen), who mugs a woman and left her to die; and, most importantly, Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore), a doctor who accidently mixes up some X-rays, which means that John’s cancer goes undiagnosed for a fatally long period of time.
Jigsaw’s death traps are either set into motion by physical movements, or hyped up to the point where their actual tame-ness is the real attraction. However, some traps seem rather lazy. The deaths happen too quickly with minimum use of brain work. For example, the victims are trapped in a silo full of grain, while slowly being pelted with dangerous yard tools like a table-saw blade, a pitchfork or long nails; or when one meat puppet protagonist is fittingly lowered into a meat-grinder-style contraption, and has to fold his arms long enough to pull a handle. There is no thinking involved in those situations, other than avoiding the obstacles and hoping that none of those sharp objects will split you in half.
Jigsaw’s appearance is not predicted throughout the trailers. He appears to be very much alive. He shows up in his classic form – as the famous Billy doll on his bicycle with glowing red eyes – speaks through taped messages and provide clues for the victims.
However, is he really alive, or is the leader another one of his trained successors?
The answer to this question marks the biggest plot twist of “Jigsaw.” Throughout the movie, the audience thinks that they are taking part in a whole new game with traps never seen before. In contrast, the audience finds themselves reliving a game that happened 10 years ago, which also happens to be the very first “Saw” game. John once claims that the games he creates are intended to “speak for the dead”, punishing and testing people that committed crimes by death. Thus, there seems to be no end for the games as John’s successors continue to carry out his punishments.
“Jigsaw” features tests that are relatively humane, though ultimately no less gruesome. In “Jigsaw,” the victims, enduring their ritual mayhem, are not just paying for their own sins, but also for innocents who are left to die due to their ignorance.
“Jigsaw” ends by closing a big sliding door, as in any other “Saw” tradition. Thus, this ending seems to open another metaphorical door as it leaves audience curious about the next possible sequence.