A smart script is executed with aplomb by the Australian brothers Peter and Michael Spierig, creating a scenario both slick and sick.


Brace yourselves: Matt Passmore gets his comeuppance


This year, 2017, has been the most successful yet for the horror genre. Following a dismal late summer at the box-office, Stephen King’s It scared up $123 million in just one weekend at US cinemas. Add that to the commercial success of Get Out, Annabelle: Creation, Alien: Covenant and Happy Death Day, and the data speaks for itself. And that doesn’t count those films that reaped considerable critical acclaim, such as Julia Ducournau's Franco-Belgian Raw, a smart and hideously inventive retch-fest. Now we have Jigsaw, the eighth instalment in the sickest, longest-running franchise in the pantheon.


It’s always hard to review something that one isn’t a natural devotee of, particularly in the case of torture porn. But, as with the music of Marilyn Manson and The Prodigy, the paintings of James Ensor and the photography of Joel-Peter Witkin, there are both good and bad examples of the art. And just as the guillotine was a masterful tool of death, so Jigsaw is a masterpiece of horror.


Those of a more delicate sensibility may wish to read no further, as what follows describes stuff designed to make your toes curl (and your stomach heave). Jigsaw is the nickname of John Kramer, a former civil engineer who dedicated his life to conceiving elaborate and sadistic scenarios which his hapless, screaming victims were forced to navigate. Rigging his torture chambers with pulleys, chains, moving panels and spinning circular saws, Kramer anticipated his subjects’ every move, leading them deeper and further into untold thresholds of pain. A sort of puppet master of death, he chose his victims carefully: people he considered culpable of some wrongdoing. Thankfully, he died ten years ago – but you know what sequels are like…


Most sequels suffer from a case of diminishing artistic returns, but what the twin brothers Peter and Michael Spierig dish up here – from an ingenious script by Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger – is both slick and compelling. There are twists aplenty, creative games to die in and devices to give Heath Robinson a migraine. Starting with the basic and building up to a space-age neck brace armed with laser cutters, the film is, for the most part, unlikely to inspire imitation from your common or garden thug. Sleekly photographed by Ben Nott and effectively scored by Charlie Clouser, Jigsaw delivers its effects with lip-smacking aplomb. And if you thought the autopsy sequences in Silent Witness were grotesque, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Sweet dreams.




Cast: Tobin Bell, Matt Passmore, Callum Keith Rennie, Clé Bennett, Hannah Emily Anderson, Laura Vandervoort, Paul Braunstein, Mandela Van Peebles.


Dir Peter Spierig and Michael Spierig, Pro Gregg Hoffman, Oren Koules and Mark Burg, Screenplay Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger, Ph Ben Nott, Pro Des Anthony Cowley, Ed Kevin Greutert, Music Charlie Clouser, Costumes Steven Wright.


Twisted Pictures-Lionsgate.

91 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 26 October 2017. Cert. 18.