Movie Review: Jigsaw (Saw 8)

When the audience of your “horror” movie is openly laughing in derision at scenes that are supposed to be shocking and scary, you have failed as a storyteller. When the audience is openly laughing in derision on opening night, your failure is magnified a hundred fold. That is exactly what happened in the theater when I saw “Jigsaw” on opening night: People in the audience were openly laughing at this “scary” movie.

So I went to see Saw 8, retitled “Jigsaw” because they are embarrassed they made this many. If you have not yet subjected yourself to the latest chapter in this abomination of a franchise, stop reading now. There will be heavy spoilers in this review.

So we start with a car chase. A criminal named Edgar is running away from the cops, who catch him as he manages to get a remote. Because the writers cannot help themselves, where does he run? A rusted metal warehouse. It seems like the city or state police, or the FBI, or maybe even the National Guard would have checked every rusted metal warehouse in the city by now.

The good news for the police department is they have replenished their forces after Detective Hoffman managed to murder every single member of the police force in Saw VII. Why anyone would want to be a police officer is not explained, since the police in this nameless city tend to do about as well as the guys wearing the red shirts in the original Star Trek series.

Speaking of Hoffman, where is he? We do not know. Saw VII ended on a cliffhanger with Hoffman trapped in the original dirty bathroom from Saw 1. Where is Dr. Gordon, who is now leading the Jigsaw Cult as of the end of Saw VII? We do not know. He has vanished too, so we will never know if he replaces his missing foot with a peg leg and completes his transformation into the Dread Pirate Roberts.

For that matter, where are the other two pig-masked people who are the new recruits to the Jigsaw Cult? We do not know. Where are all of the people in the therapy group who were talking about how Jigsaw made their lives better by putting them in deathtraps? We do not know. Save for John Kramer, nobody from the previous movies ever shows up in Saw 8. For a series big on continuity, this is a significant oversight.

Anyway, the police shoot the remote out of Edgar’s hand, but someone shoots him in the chest. He is examined by Logan, a former X-Ray technician and former soldier who now does forensic examinations for the police. As Edgar is in the hospital, a mysterious body is found hanging from a tree. A black woman runs under the body and only notices it when she notices a bunch of other people gawking.

Are you telling me that in 2017 that a black woman would not notice a man that has been lynched? How did he get there? How did Logan (spoiler!) get him up there, in a public park, without getting noticed? This is never explained, in a movie that is supposed to be “smart.” This is a huge plot hole.

The games have begun again! The mysterious victim has John Kramer’s blood under his fingernails. (It later turns out that Logan stole Jigsaw’s blood from a freezer. Of course, they would not be keeping the blood of someone who has been dead for a decade.) Anyway, the mysterious victim was decapitated by a rusty blade, because that makes sense. John Kramer is a brilliant engineer, surgeon, architect, detective, spy and Special Forces soldier. He would not use a new, clean saw blade. He would use rusted metal. Right.

So we see our “new” collection of victims. Another spoiler: These traps take place before Saw 1, so this functions both as a prequel and a sequel. We have five people in a room, attached to chains being pulled toward a wall of saws. Four of them live, and one “dies.” Well, not really. We will get back to that.

All of the traps here are extremely elaborate. Keep in mind that the traps in Saw 1 (which takes place after the events of this movie) were pretty simple. Even most of the traps in Saw II were pretty simple. Things did not start getting ridiculous until later traps in the series. Why is Jigsaw building these ridiculous traps now, then build simple traps, and then build up to things that are more and more ridiculous as Saw 1-7 go on? Why were the traps not this elaborate in the beginning? This is never explained.

For that matter, how is it possible that the room detects when someone has spilled blood on the floor by cutting themselves on the rusty saw blades? What kind of technology does Jigsaw have? This is never explained.

Here are the victims, each of which have a story for why they are in a trap. Let’s go from the top:

The first victim is Carly, a purse snatcher. Her victim died of an asthma attack chasing her. Now, how could Jigsaw know this? How could Jigsaw possibly know that Carly only got $3.53 from the woman’s purse? Was she ever arrested? Is there a police report? This continues the series of plot holes from the franchise, in which John Kramer is a detective so skilled he would put Batman to shame. It may be that he is omniscient or that he has psychic powers.

The second death is Mitch, who knowingly sold a motorcycle with a faulty brake line to Jigsaw’s nephew. It was never mentioned in any of the previous movies that Jigsaw even had a nephew, much less one who died because of an unethical salesman. Now, how could Jigsaw possibly know this? Again, it is never explained. It seems like the police would have arrested Mitch, or that his victim’s family would have sued him and his employer into bankruptcy by now. Only the omniscient Jigsaw knows the secret.

The third death is Anna, who was Jigsaw’s neighbor. Anna’s husband rolled over onto their newborn and smothered him. But wait! Anna actually murdered her own baby by smothering him with a pillow, and then convinced her husband that he rolled over onto the child and smothered him. Anna’s husband went insane and killed himself.

How could Jigsaw possibly know this? Apparently he heard the baby crying and the mom screaming at him to shut up, and figured out that she was the guilty party. This is because Jigsaw has super-hearing on the level of Superman, because he heard this through the walls in a neighboring house. Jigsaw also apparently has x-ray vision, which allowed him to see what happened. Of course, Jigsaw does not tell the police, so Anna can be arrested. He does not tell Anna’s husband, instead letting him go insane and kill himself. Jigsaw is a self-righteous hypocrite who is every bit as guilty of murdering Anna’s husband as Anna herself.

The fourth death is Ryan. Anna kills herself while trying to kill Ryan, because the shotgun she is holding fires backward. Ryan then dies, presumably from a combination of his wounds, catastrophic blood loss, starvation and dehydration. Then again, maybe Amanda smothered him to death, like she did Adam from Saw 1.

Ryan’s sin is that he was standing up in the back of a convertible, drunk. He falls out of the car, which distracts the driver (Ryan’s best friend) and causes an explosive car crash. This happened when Ryan was in high school. Again, how could Jigsaw know this, especially since this happened decades ago? This is never explained. How did Jigsaw figure this out when the police never did? This is never explained.

Also, how did Jigsaw capture all of these people? This is never explained. Tobin Bell is not exactly an intimidating figure. He is capable of overpowering and kidnapping five people, including a former soldier, by himself and with no difficulty? He is suffering from brain cancer. Did nobody notice these people are missing? For that matter, how did Logan capture the five new victims? At least he has military training.

So we find out at the end that the traps we have been following were actually Jigsaw’s very first “game” that pre-dates Saw 1. How did we not know about this at any point in the last 13 years? This is never explained. It is public record that the farm where the “game” takes place is in Jigsaw’s wife’s family, so why did the police not get a search warrant and find this at any point in the last decade? This is never explained.

So the victims the police are finding in present day are the victims from Logan re-creating the very first “game.” We never see any of these victims die, and we have absolutely no idea who they were or why they deserve to die. Logan never had any intention of allowing these people to live. All of Jigsaw’s traps are supposed to be survivable, so Logan (like Hoffman and Amanda before him) is doing a terrible job of following Jigsaw’s lead.

Logan was the only survivor from the first “game,” not because he survived it by his wits or will but because Jigsaw decided to spare him. Logan is so grateful to Jigsaw for putting him in a deathtrap that he becomes the very first member of the Jigsaw cult in yet another unnecessary retcon. This makes perfect sense. I know if someone put me in a deathtrap and maimed me, I would totally want to follow him like he is some sort of messiah.

This movie is awful. Jigsaw might be the most ridiculous Mary Sue character in cinematic history. He is omni-competent, has superpowers, is a genius on a level that has never been seen in human history, has every skill one can imagine, and more. He is the horror movie version of Batman.

Final Grade: F