Jigsaw film review – the games aren’t over yet

The Saw franchise returns and Jigsaw finds the traps as sharp and brutal as ever

Ten years after the death of the notorious trap-setting Jigsaw killer (Tobin Bell), the games have begun again. Mutilated corpses are turning up with jigsaw-shaped pieces cut out of their skin and tape recordings of John Kramer’s voice embedded in their flesh. Could Jigsaw be back from the grave?

It’s only been seven years since Saw 3D: The Final Chapter, but the franchise’s comeback feels almost as unbelievable as Kramer’s. Over the course of seven movies, released every Halloween between 2004 and 2010, Saw gained itself a reputation for being incredibly violent and incredibly convoluted. After Saw 3D, it seemed like every possible trap idea had been exhausted and every loose end tied up. When Paranormal Activity stole the Halloween horror slot, the genre moved on.

But directors Michael and Peter Spierig have achieved the impossible: Jigsaw is both a satisfying addition to the Saw mythos and a standalone shocker that might just kickstart a new franchise of its own. Whether you’re a die-hard Saw devotee or only passingly familiar with the first movie, there’s plenty to like here.

The story’s satisfyingly twisty, the traps are devious, and the new characters – including curious coroners Logan (Matt Passmore) and Eleanor (Hannah Emily Anderson), and corrupt detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) – intriguingly full of secrets.

And, of course, it’s gory. Jigsaw is the most gruesome movie you’ll see in cinemas this year, with plenty of creatively stomach-churning effects. There’s even a new, high-tech take on the iconic reverse bear trap – the Spierigs have clearly done their homework, but their take feels different, too.

Jigsaw isn’t just re-treading old ground; it’s new and old at the same time, a complex, tense, and brutal gorefest that feels completely unlike any horror movie of the past half-decade. It even manages to find space to fit in a sense of humour, with Kramer’s trademark wordplay providing an extra torment for any poor sod unlucky enough to end up in one of his traps. It’s a ride, this film – for horror fans, it’s unmissable.

Jigsaw’s back. Happy Halloween!