Major spoilers for Jigsaw.
If it’s Halloween, it must be Saw. And if it’s Saw, there must be a pretty massive twist ending. Jigsaw doesn’t disappoint, with a copycat killer mystery, narrative-scattering double-twist and one hell of a violent end-note.
While it made its name for the unsettlingly inventive gore traps, what really helped connect audiences to Saw was its ever-evolving story; each film deepened the lore of the Jigsaw Killer – real name John Kramer – his disciples and corrupted moral ethos, typically topping it all off with a shocking rug-pull. It’s been over half a decade since the now-humorously titled The Final Chapter, but it’s very much business as usual in the eighth entry.
Jigsaw picks up ten years after the death of Kramer, and a good seven after the previous film as a new (seeming) copycat emerges. Detective Halloran, a brash, no-nonsense cop, is dragged into the case by long-term criminal counterpart Edgar Munsen. As he tries to unravel the returning threat, five unlucky (but potentially deserving) victims find themselves in an elaborate series of traps in an isolated farmhouse. Lots of blood and even more suspicion of who the new killer is ensues. Let’s take a look at what really went down.
The Traps and Their “Justice” Explained (This Page)
The Traps and Their “Justice” Explained
Jigsaw is, like every film in the series (albeit in a very skewed way), about atonement for sins. What the eighth entry really steers into more than any other, though, is retribution from the dead. All of the victims are those who have led to the death of another and repeatedly avoided facing up to the fact: Carly stole the purse of an asthmatic woman who had an attack chasing her; Mitch sold a bike knowing its brake fluid was leaking; Ryan’s drunken antics led to a car crash involving his best friends that he blamed on them; Anna suffocated her baby and pinned it on her husband, who killed himself in prison. All of them took advantage of others to pass blame, something Jigsaw aims to address.
Each of the traps are made to force a stage of this of development. First, they must shed blood as a form of sacrifice, then each person gets their own challenge: Carly must admit she let a person die for $3.53 by choosing the relevant syringe to cure poison Jigsaw’s given her (she can’t and winds up with acid in her bloodstream); Mitch has to experience the unchecked speed and ferocity of the bike he sold in a giant, spinning machine (narrowly missing out on the brake); and finally Anna and Ryan are given the chance to recognize that salvation doesn’t come from more murder (they don’t take it). The silo and door traps in the middle of the film don’t quite fit this grand plan (and, frankly, make little sense in terms of plot), but can be argued to still promote the notion of self-sacrifice and working together.
In the end, all of the subjects die – as is wont of Kramer’s games – although in this case it’s purely as a result of their greed; Anna tries to shoot Ryan with a backfiring shotgun, blowing her own face off and in the process destroying the keys that would have freed them. Plainly, they reject repentance.
But the victims are only part of Saw – the real good stuff when you get to the killer.
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