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Jigsaw (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

After seven years away, the Saw franchise returned to scare up some more traps for the Halloween season. The eighth installment wouldn’t admit as much with the title, opting for the John Rambo/Rocky Balboa route of naming it after its title character’s moniker. John Kramer would have been an interesting one to call it.  The film opened to some solid box office returns due to the budget being so low, but wound up being the second lowest grossing of the series both in terms of domestic and worldwide box office. Hopefully this isn’t the of Billy the Puppet’s run. As with Freddy, Jason, Michael, etc…no matter how bad an installment or how long a break, I enjoy seeing these franchise horror icons keep going. You’ll be able to pick up the first 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray of the series with Jigsaw when it springs the trap on January 23rd.

Film 

In the latest terrifying installment of the legendary SAW series, law enforcement find itself chasing the ghost of a man dead for over a decade, embroiled in a diabolical new game that’s only just begun.  Has John Kramer, the infamous Jigsaw Killer, returned from the dead to commit a series of murders and remind the world to be grateful for the gift of life?  Or is this a trap set by a different killer with designs of their own?

After 7 years away (More in the timeline of the series), how would Jigsaw make his triumphant return. The film’s creators opted to play for the casual Saw viewer and newcomer instead of focusing on the hardcore fanatic (Looking for those dollars). In the bonus documentary, they felt the need to go back to the roots of a simple “2 guys in a room” type of scenario and have a film that someone who hadn’t watched the Saw films in a long time or someone who gave up after some of the early sequels could return to enjoy. I’d have to argue that yes, getting squeemish at the gore of the traps is part of the appeal of these movies, as much as the enjoyment comes from the hyper-soap opera nature and insane attention to continuity and fixing plot holes was as much of the draw. This new entry and its box office left people wondering, why didn’t you just make something for the devoted?

Personally, I found Jigsaw to be an uptick in quality from some of the worst entries, but overall probably hanging out at the bottom of the middle of the back. Its a film that feels they have somewhere new to take the series, yet circling back to familiar grounds for its big ending twist. Now, they’ve introduced some interesting new characters that if they decide to make another can jump right back to heavily incorporating the Elwes as the leader of a Jigsaw cult storyline with some of these new people that could strengthen this one. I still enjoyed it as a new Saw film to see, but it should have been a little easier to write this film, given there were years to reflect on it and come back a little more fresh.

I’ve been hard on the film, but it delivers in the core saw goods. And if anything, it returns to a more audience type of involved mystery where you sort of feel like you may be able to figure out the overall arc as well as some of the puzzles with in the main “game”.  You really can’t, but you at least feel like you are. The film also has a unique look compared to the others, opting for something brighter and less filtered. The new characters feel right at home and of the ilk that we’ve seen before. We have people that got it, but wanted to make something fresher for mass consumption to restart something with their film, rather than continuing on from before.

Will Jigsaw come back?  These movies don’t cost much to make and this one did make money back. I hope we see a ninth installment. As mentioned, Jigsaw was the Freddy/Jason of the 00s. Some are dumb fun, some are suprisingly good, some are incredibly awful. While the new one may not get to be as close a part of the main story that drove the first run of films, I do think its less embarrassing and a more enjoyable watch and competently made film than at the very least than Saw V and Saw 3-D. Whether its better or not than Saw IV may be a coin toss. My only hope is that they wickedly spin this one into a continuation of where Saw 3-D left off next time, in true Saw franchise fashion.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p) Dolby Vision

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Jigsaw rocks its 4K Ultra-HD image and takes great advantage of being a good, clear, sharp picture with great colors and wonderful HDR usage. There are is a great amount of clarity with awesome detail and texture, from the exact to the touch look of the pig mask, to the individual straws on the floor and the scratches and patterns of the buckets they wear at the beginning to being able to see all the gruesome features of a cadaver, its quite impressive here. This is one of the best images I’ve seen from Lionsgate and unfortunately, due to the content, no store is really going to be able to demo it. But, it is impressive.

Depth:  The film features a really good depth of field between the foreground and background. With how sharp the image is, it makes for relatively great spacing and free movement with no distortion.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and well saturated here. Dark scenes contain really good retention on detail while looking nice and naturally black. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Color work on this is outstanding and its beyond the series normal green filter. This one blasts off with really terrific blues and reds. Most impressively, the HDR on this thing is awesome with lasers, digital counters, police car lights, gorgeous lit red barn, a yellow padlock, the eyes and shoes of Billy the puppet and one of my favorites was Eleanor’s red hair. There are lots of lights, digital displays and neons in this movie that just burst and glow on the screen.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout the entirety of the film. Facial textures and details like make-up, lip texture, moles, lines, stubble, dried blood and more come through with great clarity from any given distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Audio Optimized for Late Night Listening, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Jigsaw sports itself a Dolby Atmos track that is solid and gets the trick done. The mix features some really good sound effect design that is distinct, crisp and well layered having a lifelike feel to it. Said mix though does hang out in the front primarily and is a little low for the ceiling sound effects. This one does get loud and quite effective in making you stir in your seat, but I feel like I was hoping for a little bit more. I’m not saying this sucks or anything, just that I think it could have been a little better. Either way, this one does get the trick done, as the subwoofer is terrific here. I was looking for more surround activity from the top, back and sides (Or maybe heavier in the mix).

Height: The ceiling speakers are quite present during times where they need to be but are kind of mixed oddly. In the scene where two characters are drowning in grain coming from above, I had to stand up and make sure something was representing it, which it was, but it was too low in the mix for me to tell in my seat. Music coming from the ceiling speakers is much louder and other moments can be heard better, but the sound effects needed to be bumped up a little.

Low Frequency Extension: Music beats, gunfire, engine hums, loud slams and intense music stings and more grace the subwoofer with some bump.

Surround Sound Presentation: This tends to focus more on the front, with some effects coming from up top and the rears and sides mainly playing with ambiance. Sound travel is very accurate and everything moves with clarity and purpose.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are crisp, with good clarity in this mix and every bit of the enunciation present at all times.

Extras 

Jigsaw comes with the Blu-ray edition and an UltraViolet digital copy.

Audio Commentary

  • With Producers Mark Burg, Oren Koules and Peter Block

I Speak For The Dead: The Legacy of Jigsaw Documentary (HD, 1:21:56) – A real up and down in depth look over every aspect of the film. We get a good deal of their coming up with what kind of approach they took to the film (Which, if you’ve seen it, they accomplished what they were trying to do). There’s a bit on Tobin Bell’s devotion to the role and Lionsgate as well as casting, the traps, the directors and even a discussion about the naming of the film (“It was never going to be called Legacy” and they like the Rocky Balboa aspect of it). Some of this stuff was down afterward and there are interviews taken on set or during shooting as well. However, it is very spoiler heavy, so don’t worry about that.  They are also hoping that there will be more to come after this.

The Choice Is Yours: Exploring The Props (HD, 6:27) – A tour through the props and trap room. Funny how this wasn’t somehow incorporated in the documentary…but…okay. The guy seems kind of lonely and left out here on this short featurette.

Summary 

Jigsaw is a solid little return to the Saw universe. Its not as deeply tied to the narrative as the other sequels, making it almost a one-off (Though, it also isn’t). This 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray presentation is really good, bolstering a fantastic image that really takes advantage of HDR. Supplemental material works out great as you get a commentary and a feature length documentary. Saw fans should start their 4K collection here with this one.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

2 Responses to “Jigsaw (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Love it! “John Kramer would have been an interesting one to call it.”

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    RE: Better than Saw IV – Eh, that one has its problems, but also the best twist of the series, so…