I s this really the end run for Jigsaw and his moralistic attempts to make life more meaningful for a society that is locked into its own greed, social network navel gazing, and petty bigotry? Say it ain’t so.
I don’t believe for a moment that it is, but let’s assume for argument’s sake that Lionsgate and the Saw franchise folks are to be taken at their word and this is our curious serial killer’s final cut (although that’s not exactly accurate since the character of Jigsaw, as played by the intriguingly menacing Tobin Bell, has been dead for the last three films, if I’m not mistaken). This 3D edition, the seventh consecutive Halloween season installment, comes full circle in many ways. The traps take center stage, some would say, over the moralizing and the soap opera dynamics, although there’s still enough silly melodrama to make fans feel right at home. Those who have tapped into each and every one of the previous features will be rewarded with familiar faces, some that go all the way back to the humble beginnings (I’m not going to spoil it for you, don’t worry). I’ve been one of the faithful followers, and as a critic, I have to say I’ve done so without the tired eye-rolling so many of my peers have resorted to in an effort to highlight their disdain.
I like Jigsaw. Truly, I do.
I appreciate how he sticks to his mantra about challenging his participants to see the value of life and living it to the fullest. He reminds me of my intellectual mentor, Cornell West who defines being human as a constant daily struggle to live in the face of inevitable death. Now I know West never had Jigsaw in mind when he penned those words, but Jigsaw pushes us, and those (un)lucky enough to find themselves caught up in his games, to stare inevitable death right in its bloody face.
The problem that arises in the series though is that after a certain point, possibly the film immediately following Jigsaw’s actual onscreen demise, the filmmakers realize the quandry they’ve created for themselves. They needed his overarching morality to maintain the internal logic of the whole twisted affair and without him there to guide his would-be acolytes, his dream ends up distorted, a perverse mis-interpretation of his prophecy. And at worst, as in Saw 3D, it becomes a bit of petty personal revenge that Jigsaw would not tolerate.
So is this the end? Will the weekend box office decree that paranormal activity as eclipsed torture porn? Can the things that go bump in front of our multi-tracked night vision video cameras while killing simple-minded menfolk and stealing sisters and babies remain as relentlessly engaging as a serial killer who, for the most part, doesn’t actually kill (is it really his fault that these people fall so easily into his traps and end up doing the dirty work for him)?
If only Jigsaw were around to answer these questions for himself.