Saturday, February 3, 2018

Phil's Horror Watch: JIGSAW (2017) from Lionsgate FIlms - February 2, 2018

In 2004, moviegoers and horror fans witnessed the birth of a new franchise in the form of a film called SAW. Directed by James Wan and written by Leigh Whannell, the movie ushered in a new horror icon Jigsaw (played by the great Tobin Bell) as well as a genre that would be known as "torture porn." The movie became a surprised smash hit for Lionsgate, and cranked out six consecutive sequels during the month of October, making it a Halloween tradition for horror fans. Then in 2010, the studio released SAW 3D: THE FINAL CHAPTER, marking the end of the series. It looked like the games were finally over.

Or so we thought.

Lionsgate announced in October 2016 that production had begun on SAW: LEGACY, the film's original title. The studio confirmed that Bell would also return as John Kramer. I wondered how in the hell they were going to pull this off? Kramer died in SAW 3, but was used in flashback sequences in the remaining entries. So maybe that was how they were going to bring him back. But who would be playing the games? Who would take over Kramer's legacy? What twisted deaths will we see in the movie? All these questions and more were answered when I finally saw JIGSAW!

Original Theatrical Poster (2017)
The film's official synopsis: The legacy of terror continues in the latest bloodcurdling installment of the SAW series. After a series of murders bearing all the markings of the Jigsaw killer, law enforcement finds itself chasing the ghost of a man dead for over a decade, embroiled in a diabolical new game that’s only just begun. Has John Kramer, the infamous Jigsaw Killer, returned from the dead to commit a series of murders and remind the world to be grateful for the gift of life? Or is this a trap set by a different killer with designs of their own?

It's been seven years since the last film and I wondered if Lionsgate would be able to recapture the spirit, the magic, and the gruesomeness of the series all these years later? Would fans of the franchise be satisfied with the end results? Speaking as a fan, I would like to answer these questions with a profound and positive YES!

I so thoroughly enjoyed the movie! First, the script was very well written and felt more like the original - more of a who-done-it thriller with excellent gore and bloodshed. Screenwriters Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger spent two years on getting the opportunity to propose their idea for the new entry. Once Lionsgate approved their vision, pre-production went underway. Soon, brothers Michael and Peter Spierig (UNDEAD, PREDESTINATION, DAYBREAKERS) were signed on to direct the film. These four individuals would have the dubious honor of resurrecting the franchise and presenting to modern audiences who may have not seen the previous installments. As I stated, it falls more in line with the original SAW movie, with more of a focus on the characters, the games, and the who-is-the-killer mystery. In the end, it everything I could have wanted in the film, including the great twist in the third act that we as fans have come to expect. Congratulations gentlemen on making me a fan once again!

The movie was released on October 27, 2017, just in time for Halloween. It made $1.6 million from Thursday midnight screenings alone (not too shabby). But, it went on to gross an impressive $102.9 million worldwide, against its budget of $10 million! Of course, the studio announced that there would be a sequel, however, it would not be directed by Michael and Peter Spierig, which is a shame. They have such a clear vision as directors and they brought a lot to the film that made it more unique. I want to wish them the best of luck with all their future projects and, hopefully, they will return to the franchise again.

JIGSAW is a welcomed addition to the SAW series and one fans will die for! It's a gore-filled thriller sequel that will make you scream for joy! For horror fans, it will entertain the hell out of you! For the regular moviegoer, be prepared to witness the bloody brilliance of John Kramer! 4 1/2 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

JIGSAW is currently available on both Blu-Ray and DVD from Lionsgate Fims. The film is also available on Digital HD, iTunes and VOD.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror!

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