Horror fans were spoiled for choice when UK cinemas re-opened in May 2021 (after our second lockdown) and first out of the gate was this eagerly anticipated reboot of the ‘Saw’ franchise.
Chris Rock stars as Detective Zeke Banks, a loose cannon, unpopular amongst his peers after ratting out a corrupt colleague. When a detective goes missing and is later found dead, it appears that a Jigsaw copycat wants to play a game and Zeke finds himself at the centre of the latest mystery.
When I first heard that Chris Rock had come up with a way to kickstart the flagging ‘Saw’ franchise, I wasn’t as sceptical as some. After all, David Gordon Green and Danny McBride showed audiences what talent associated with comedy could do in the horror genre, with 2018’s highly successful ‘Halloween’. Sadly, this latest chapter misses the mark.
I appreciated Chris Rock’s humour, but it did feel like he was preparing for a new stand-up show and trialing his material on an unsuspecting audience. Zeke Banks is very one dimensional (and monotone) throughout the film’s run time, even when the filmmakers try to show his layers. Also criminally under-utilised is the legendary Samuel L. Jackson. Coming off best here is Riverdale MILF, Marisol Nichols as Zeke’s tough boss, Captain Angie Garza.
The actual story itself is timely (actually foreshadowing a lot of events which would crop up in the real world, during the time period the film was shelved, due to the pandemic) and had the potential to be shocking, but strange story/directorial/editing choices make it all seem a little underwhelming by film’s end.
I never try to spoil a film for anyone, but I feel I need to explain where things went off course for me, personally. First of all, it was another entry akin to the Mark Hoffman era, where victims had zero chance of actually escaping from the horrible traps, they found themselves in. Once this had been established, it then meant that the identity of the villain was blindingly obvious, as not only did we not see them in the trap they supposedly died in, but we didn’t see their body etc. after the fact either, so it came as no surprise when they were revealed as the killer. Their motive was more surprising, but they had become such a heinous character by that point, that it was kind of hard to feel sorry for them.
There is no denying that Darren Lynn Bousman made some of the best films in the entire franchise, but a triumphant return to the world of ‘Saw’ and cinema this was not.