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Popcorn Fall

Popcorn Pictures

Reviewing the best (and worst) of horror, sci-fi and fantasy since 2000

  • Andrew Smith

Jigsaw (2002)

"Put him together... he'll tear you apart"


A group of art students are given their final project to complete. They are each given a body part of a broken mannequin and have to go home and decorate it as they like. Upon completion, the mannequin is to be re-assembled and see what it looks like with each part supposedly reflecting the personality of the different individuals. Unfortunately for them, the mannequin comes alive and sets about taking real body parts from its victims.


With an intriguing premise such as this, it's a pity that Jigsaw is such a low budget offering because there's plenty of mileage in this idea which would have perhaps worked better as a short story in an anthology. Clearly no one from Full Moon or Tempe Entertainment had that much faith in the idea anyway and saddled Jigsaw with a low budget, a small cast and crew and little regard to what would come out the other end as long as someone could slap a cool-looking cover on the front of the DVD and get a few sales or rentals from Blockbuster.

I'm not knocking the initial premise. It's got potential but why bother with such a good idea if you know you're not going to be able to back it up with money or talent to work out some of the minor details such as how it comes to life and what it wants? You really get the feeling that the crew just winged it as they went along, resulting in a film which only has its eyes on bringing the creature to life and nothing else matters. However, it takes around fifty minutes for Jigsaw to really kick in anyway, leaving only the final third for the creature to start killing and build itself a proper body. This leaves the bulk of the film open for characters and dialogue. Lots of dialogue. We get lots of small talk, guys hitting on women, talking about childhood traumas and plenty of diabolical one-liners to name a few things. To say that it's slow and uneventful would be too kind. Jigsaw populates its world with your typical teenage characters: the goth, the nerd, the bitch, etc. They would never hang around with each other in real life; social circles just don't operate like this. I guess having a group of gloomy goths designing the mannequin would have meant they all came up with the same sort of theme so having stereotypes allowed for the mannequin to be a juxtaposition of many personalities. The acting is really bad all around and it's no surprise to see that the majority of the cast have received little to no work since.

Things pick up when Jigsaw comes to life but its too little, too late. The script doesn't even explain why it comes to life - not a hint, not a clue, nothing. No voodoo. No lightning. No blood sacrifice. It just gets up and starts killing. It's head-scratching and whilst I know that films don't need to spell things out completely for audiences, at least some subtle hints as to what the hell is going on would have been nice. There's some mild gore during the kill scenes at this stage of Jigsaw and a nasty death involving a circular saw but by this point, you'll have already checked out. There's only so many scenes of the characters sitting around drinking in a bar that I can tolerate in one sitting.

The Jigsaw creature does have a rather unique look and it's rather quirky and awkward movement adds to the chill factor it exhibits. The creature is well-designed and in all honesty, deserved a better film. Though it's a bit of a creative cop-out to have the students decide to put a camcorder as an eye, a circular saw on one of his arms and a sawn-off shotgun on the other. Why not, you know, give it some proper arms? Oh wait, that because they wouldn’t be useful for when it comes to life and kills people using aforementioned appendages. None of the characters question why Jigsaw is doing what it's doing or decide to contact the police; it's all in a regular day's work it seems.

To really kick you below the belt, the film ends with a puzzling non-ending. It doesn't tie anything up at all. The final girl remains tied up on the floor as Jigsaw goes to kill the professor instead. Yet she was the one who added a limb to the creature, not the professor. The film ends with Jigsaw still alive. It's almost as if there's a reel of footage missing and no one noticed, presumably because no one ever watched the final cut. As ripped off as I felt whilst watching the film, the ending just violated me in ways I couldn't imagine. What would an extra couple of minutes cost if they'd properly finished the story?


Final Verdict

Jigsaw is just absolute rubbish. It's a technically well-made low budget film but the script and direction just woefully pulls the rug out from everything else. The script needed another few drafts and rewrites to really allow some more exposition. Instead of this, we just get plenty of exasperation and frustration.



Director(s): Don Adams, Harry James Picardi

Writer(s): Don Adams, Harry James Picardi

Actor(s): Barret Walz, Aimee Bravo, Mia Zifkin, Arthur Simone, James Palmer, Mark Vollmers, David Wesley Cooper, Maren Lindow

Duration: 78 mins


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