The first Saw took heat for launching the uber-gore trend, but on its own terms, it was a cleverly nasty bit of business with a whopper of a surprise ending. While director James Wan went on to the more refined pastures of the Insidious and Conjuring franchises, the Saw sequels increasingly curdled into nastiness and convoluted plotting as tortured as their victims. Seven years after the series hit its nadir with, ahem, Saw 3D: The Final Chapter, it’s been… revived, to essentially just slavishly repeat the past films’ formula.
The directing brothers – who, like Wan, hail from Australia, and previously helmed the more interesting Daybreakers – keep things moving briskly and don’t wallow in mean-spiritedness in the manner of some previous entries. But they’re not able to rally much interest in these bland characters, or to achieve the bottom-line goal of any horror: despite its meticulous gore, Jigsaw ain’t scary.
The bottom line
Better than some of the others, but not great.