Most recent Saw movie holds up

John (Saw)'s face takes up the movie poster. This movie was released on Halloween this year

John (Saw)'s face takes up the movie poster. This movie was released on Halloween this year

“I wanna play a game.”

This quote lives in its own infamy – it’s one of those phrases everyone knows, making the movie series it’s from, the Saw franchise, equally well-known. Beginning with a simple movie about two men trapped in a bathroom at the hand of a mass-”murderer” known as Jigsaw attempting to escape by winning the game, the series quickly spirals into more complex traps and a more intricate plot as more characters are introduced and killed off and reintroduced. By Jigsaw, the newest episode in this long-running series, the biggest question is who has been helping Jigsaw with his traps this entire time – a question partially answered in Saw 7, but continuing in this movie and the ones to come. The plot of Jigsaw involves a group trap of five people who must go through a series of tests to escape, just like every other movie in the franchise. What sets it apart, though, is the subplot happening outside the game, involving two coroners and the investigators attempting to solve these puzzling traps, as a Saw trap hasn’t been seen in years. This offers a new perspective to the series – while the other movies have a stronger focus on the detectives attempting to solve the case or the people in the traps themselves, this one focuses on the people examining the bodies and their personal lives.

Throughout the Saw movies, much of the appeal stems from the uniqueness of the story – instead of another typical horror movie, it involves little actual murder and instead intense physical and psychological challenges the people in the traps must face to escape. There’s a promise of freedom, and these tests are done only to “bad” people – rapists, stalkers, thieves, and the like. This leads to a profound moral question of whether people who do horrible things deserve to be tortured like this or if Jigsaw is really the villain. It also creates a fascinating sort of sympathy for Jigsaw, or John, as the movies progress and more and more of his personality and backstory are revealed. There is nothing cut and dry about these movies – the plot gets continuously more complicated as the tiniest details from the previous movies return in a huge way, and the traps themselves get more interesting every movie as the writers attempt to find new ways to torture the victims, allowing the audience to evaluate themselves and play the game of “would I survive this trap” – a game that I almost always lose. This leaves something for everyone willing to put up with the grotesquely violent scenes – there’s plot, there’s murder, there’s exciting mechanics. And if that’s not enough, Jigsaw specifically puts the audience through a number of twists and turns causing them to reevaluate all the theories based on the past movies, culminating in a final huge plot twist that was both tastefully and cleverly done – the kind of plot twist that can allow someone to watch the movie a second time with a new sort of clarity or understanding. As a newly found but now-obsessed Saw fan, this movie fulfilled all my hopes for it, following the plot of the former movies while still bringing in new elements that cause the excitement one wants out of a new movie.