Saw franchise continues with unnecessary installment

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When a franchise releases an installment with the tagline “The Final Chapter,” the world usually takes that at face value and moves on with life.

Psych.

Seven years after the seventh and “final” installment in the Saw franchise, along comes “Jigsaw.”

“Jigsaw” takes place 10 years after the death of “Jigsaw Killer” John Kramer (Tobin Bell), who, in his prime, kidnapped people and subjected them to usually escapable torture games to turn their misdeeds around.

In “Jigsaw,” the murders are happening again — with evidence that the dead serial killer is still behind them.

“How can this be?” the franchise expects viewers to ask.

“Why is this necessary?” I asked instead.

Honestly, the premise was more interesting in the trailers than the big reveal near the film’s ending.

I enjoyed trying to figure out how in the world Kramer could be alive when he very clearly died in an earlier installment.

The payoff was incredibly disappointing, simply relying on the viewer to assume what’s happening onscreen is all happening in the present day.

It’s not happening in present day, and it’s not a plot twist worthy of applause.

As for the main part of why people watch these films, “torture porn,” “Jigsaw” felt relatively tame. I wasn’t uncomfortably biting my lip and shuddering like I did in “Saw II’s” “dig through the syringe needles to survive” trap or anxiously watching a group of people on a merry-go-round fearing for their lives.

Sure, there are some noteworthy traps — there’s a spiral-blender-cyclone thing that dices its victim like a fruit peel. There’s a laser beam trap that sears and melts your skull apart.

It’s enough to claim its place in the Saw franchise, and certainly better than some of the hit-or-miss installments, but not substantial as a comeback story.

The ending, as anyone could have expected, leaves the franchise open to explore more with the plotline. The story’s not great, but most people aren’t really watching for a mind-wracking thriller with smart characters.

The Saw producers know that, and they’re milking it for what it’s worth. Loyal Saw fans will be thrilled to see the traps back on the big screen, but if you’re looking for a smart, puzzling thriller, this isn’t it.

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

 

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