Blu-ray Review: Jigsaw

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The original Saw was released some 14 years ago and helped set new standards for gore and "torture porn" in U.S. mainstream horror films. The saga of serial killer John Kramer (Tobin Bell) eventually wore out its welcome over the course of six sequels. Audiences finally tired of Kramer's increasingly bloody "puzzles" in which multiple victims met terrible fates as they struggled to understand his mousetrap-like instruments of death. Things petered out in 2010 with Saw 3D, but everything old(er) becomes new again. So now we have 2017's Jigsaw.

Not going to spoil anything here, except to say that—despite relatively lukewarm box office and critical reception—Jigsaw delivers pretty much everything fans could expect. Except maybe true scares, since the playbook is pretty well worn by now. A John Kramer copycat appears to be at work—or is it somehow the long-dead Kramer himself? The Jigsaw Killer's blood turns up at the scene of a fresh kill. Detectives Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) and Hunt (ClĂ© Bennett) are on the case, providing a break from the torrent of non-stop violence that has characterized the series.

Directing team Michael and Peter Spierig handle a big twist finale in workmanlike but effective fashion. Co-writers Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger, both new to the series, have put together a fairly rote horror film, one that manages to be neither the best nor the worst of the Saw series. A $103 million worldwide gross (on a $10 million budget) appears to have convinced distributor Lionsgate that a ninth entry is justified. Jigsaw ain't the place to start for those who've never seen a Saw film, but if you're a series veteran with low expectations it's a pretty painless 90 minutes.

Lionsgate has issued an exceptional supplementary feature package for the Jigsaw Blu-ray. There's audio commentary, not by the writers or directors but by the film's trio of producers: Mark Burg, Oren Koules, and Peter Block. "The Choice is Yours: Exploring the Props" is a short (six minutes) tour of the set. But the gold is found in the whopping hour-and-20-minute "I Speak for the Dead: The Legacy of Jigsaw" documentary. Folks, even if you're a Saw fan who didn't really care for the new Jigsaw, this in-depth piece is well worth the time.
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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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