7 years after what was intended to be the final installment in the “Saw” franchise, Saw 3D: The Final Chapter, fans were pleasantly surprised when “Jigsaw” was announced for release. Even though the finale of “The Final Chapter” seemed to bring everything in the story around full circle, I always felt like I needed more information. Granted, I felt that way nearly every time I finished one of the “Saw” movies, but since it was announced “The Final Chapter” was going to be the final film, I assumed there would be more of a grand revelation than what was presented. Luckily, someone with more cinematic influence than I have felt the same way, so this Halloween audiences were given an unexpected treat with an eighth movie in the franchise. I got excited, I watched it, I loved it, and now I’m here to tell you all about it.

Unlike previous Saw movies, you can watch, keep up with, and understand this movie having only watched the first Saw movie, even if you haven’t seen any of the previous sequels. While some fans might dislike this approach in favor of a movie more exclusive to dedicated fans of the franchise, I really support this decision. I have seen the previous seven movies and, while they were enjoyable, they weren’t the easiest to keep track of the plot, and I don’t want to have to sit through seven movies just to refresh my memory. Just watch the original Saw and you’ll be all set to enjoy this one. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say there is a reason for everything happening the way it does, and a reason for the story to be created as it was. Some things I thought were flaws in the movie actually turned out to be purposefully done and everything made sense in the end.

This pseudo-standalone feature doesn’t disappoint with what someone would expect from one of the Saw movies: puzzles, gore, a creepy doll riding a tricycle and the raspy, menacing voice of Jigsaw. The traps themselves are more simplistic – but no less gruesome – and the plot, while predictably following detectives hunting the killer, isn’t so intertwined with seven films worth of backstory that it’s impossible to follow. This really takes the franchise back to just a simple, torture-escape horror movie. Some fans might describe the traps in Jigsaw as lackluster in comparison to the previous gore-filled movies, but to quote a line from the movie, “The game is simple; the best ones are”, and I have to agree whole-heartily with that sentiment. Don’t misunderstand; I thoroughly enjoyed the previous movies, especially Saw 2 and Saw 3, but the simplistic design and rough-around-the -edges feel of the traps in this one give it a more classic feel, and like I said, there’s a reason for everything.

Overall, it was a great entry in the franchise and the ending was a nice way to pay tribute to the original. It’s gory, suspenseful and mysterious, and I honestly admit I did not see the ending coming. Just when I thought I had the movie figured out, everything flipped on its head and took me by surprise. The directors – Michael & Peter Spierig – will also be directing the upcoming “Winchester: The House that Ghosts Built”, which, if you haven’t seen the trailer, looks absolutely terrifying, and if Jigsaw was any hint at the level of suspense they’re capable of creating, I am definitely looking forward to it. I recommend watching Jigsaw even if you’re not a fan of super gory movies. If you can handle the first Saw movie, then you can handle this one.

This movie is…

It’s not the greatest horror movie of all time, but definitely in the top 5 for this year.

Cheers and goodnight.