If there is an unofficial achievement that the writers of the “Saw” franchise have attained, it is to be labeled Most Creative Disturbing Methods for People to Die in a Horror Movie. A headline for this review almost became, “Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the movies …” a play on words issuing a dire warning to victims in classic horror films. This is the eighth entry in the “Saw” franchise that began in 2004, but space is limited for this article so a short and sweet subtitle had to suffice.
The movie begins with a police chase. A criminal is not really running from the police but rushing to a certain place to retrieve a hidden detonator. He tells the confronting police officer that he “has to choose” and that “a new game is being played.”
Chained victims in an isolated room wear helmets (that seem like something musician Buckethead would adore) and wake up to the oh-so-sinister voice of John Kramer, aka Jigsaw, announcing that they will play his game in which they must confess to a sin. Their first obstacle is to avoid being dragged by their chains to a wall of buzzsaws and after that they encounter more clues and deadly contraptions.
Most in the audience would see the trailer and say “Wait, another one?” as though the notion of putting people through horrific devices and being freed after some form of self-mutilation or, in this case, the telling of a dark secret, can only be done once.
But this being Hollywood, producers will milk any hit idea by revisiting characters and creating scenarios in which the villains return. How often did Universal kill Dracula, Frankenstein’s creation and the Wolf Man only to bring them back in another movie? The underlying philosophy behind a franchise seems to be: “How can we end that which makes us rich?” and “Saw” falls right into that category.
Directors Michael and Peter Spierig (“Daybreakers,” “Predestination”) helm this satisfying little mystery/thriller with a good cast, including the return of Tobin Bell who has still mastered his deep, engrossing voice that makes “Jigsaw” a compelling character.