|Directed by||:||The Spierig Brothers||Produced by||:||Gregg Hoffman, Oren Koules, Mark Burg||Based on||:||Saw by James Wan, Leigh Whannell||Starring||:||Matt Passmore, Callum Keith Rennie, Clé Bennett, Hannah Emily Anderson||Production company||:||Twisted Pictures||Country||:||United States|
Blu-ray Review: 'Jigsaw' Is For The Fans, Whether They Like It Or Not
Though it was domestically the second-lowest grossing of all the Saw sequels (the lowest, ironically, being the reasonably well-liked Saw VI, which punished greedy, health insurance-related villains), Jigsaw made over $102 million internationally, which is comparable to the first Saw's numbers if you don't adjust for inflation. And on a $10 million budget, even $38 million domestically is okay -- these are movies aimed almost entirely at the existing fan base, and as long as they're priced accordingly, they can continue at that level. Based on all the extra material on the new Blu-ray of Jigsaw, that's certainly the plan; if Lionsgate or Twisted Pictures were ever daunted by the reception of their most recent installment, it certainly didn't happen while the bonus features were being recorded.
The eighth in the Saw series was clearly planned to be, like The Last Jedi, a movie that would get credit both for being a legit sequel and for changing things up with new cinematic language and story status quo. That's not quite how it worked out. While some reviews gave it credit for a new visual style, most -- positive and negative -- regarded it as just another installment. The 92% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes indicates that fans of the series were generally satisfied, though the few I've spoken to expressed some disappointment that the story more-or-less started fresh, ditching the increasing story convolutions that many of them love and keeping only Tobin Bell in increasingly unlikely flashbacks.
Part of this is unavoidable -- Cary Elwes, whose character anchored the principal remaining story thread, doesn't want to be a regular presence in the series, and his asking price might be too high anyway. But mostly it was a marketing decision, with writers, producers and directors all agreeing that audiences shouldn't be required to know seven movies worth of backstory. And Bell, as the Jigsaw Killer who died in part 3 but who has had his past filled out in every subsequent movie, may be ridiculously shoehorned in, storywise, but he is inarguably the best thing about the films. With eight installments playing the same character, he now ties Robert Englund's Freddy Krueger tenure, and with one more will tie Hugh Jackman's Wolverine and Anthony Daniels' Threepio. That's some iconic company.
As has been the norm for Saw Blu-rays, Jigsaw features a commentary track by executive producers Mark Burg, Oren Koules, and Peter Block, who mention that they didn't want to make "Saw VIII" but did still want it to feel like a Saw movie and not a complete reboot. Other than that, it's business as usual, with the three talking up the fans while behaving as if said fans like every installment equally. In a brief moment of self-reflection, they agree that Saw IV had problems balancing its different storylines and was "too confusing." There's lots of talk about what got cut and what didn't in order to convey information properly and quicken the pace; frustratingly, they also mention deleted scenes that they clearly assumed would be included on the disc but are not. They definitely intend to make another movie in the series, but not at the pace of one per year -- they're convinced that taking a few years to get Jigsaw right has made it much better than usual, and it's a shame they aren't right about that. In the end, it is still just the fifth-best Saw movie.