CONTAINS SPOILERS AND OUCH THAT'S GOT TO HURT
The good news regarding this belated continuation of the much maligned mutilation saga is that, for the first time, you don't need to binge watch all the previous entries in a two-day marathon of screaming and dismemberment. I did, as usual, but found that this usual homework was entirely unnecessary: this entry steers clear of endlessly restaging and reinterpreting events from previous films and dragging characters back for another appearance (pretty much everyone was killed off in the last one anyway); all you really need to know is that John Kramer is apparently back and instructing a further collection of deadbeats and lowlifes in the error of their ways, despite being conclusively very dead indeed at the end of Saw III and even more conclusively autopsied at the start of Saw IV.
The bad news is that I didn't wince once. That's not to suggest that Jigsaw is actually a heartwarming romp full of kittens and buttercups, but even on a fifth viewing I still grimace at Donnie Wahlberg's ankle smashing in Saw IV - more this time than the previous viewing - and by the high disgust standards of earlier movies (particularly the last one, which achieved crime scene photo levels of splattery verisimilitude) it's simply not in that look-away league. Still, there's more than enough ghoulish roadkill entertainment to be had: whirring saw blades, shotguns, acid injections, severed legs, and a final kill that's sadly CG silliness rather than physical shredded flesh.
It's doing all the things that the Saw series is noted for: sleight of hand with the timeline (they were doing this as far back as Saw II, and it took me a couple of runs to twig that the events of Saw III and Saw IV run concurrently), Charlie Clouser's industrial noise score (kudos for keeping the same musical voice throughout the series, which other franchises didn't bother with), a handful of red herring characters who might be the new killer, victims' characters and crimes efficiently sketched in, nods to the previous films, a complete lack of logic and sense (one might accept that John Kramer was wealthy and inventive enough to afford and construct all those traps, but can the same be said of the new holder of Jigsaw's mantle?), and a conclusion that suggests that in a year's time they, and we, will be doing the exact same thing.
That's not necessarily a bad thing: many other franchises have run out of steam a lot sooner than this, and some never had much steam to begin with. Saw has kept up the invention of new and visually impressive ways to rip the human body to pieces, it's responded to the demise of its central monster by constructing a hilariously convoluted set of backstories and flashbacks, and it's never had the good taste to look away when an eyeball's being skewered or yards of intestines are being sloshed around the floor. Best of all: none of the saga's horrors have been sexual: men and women have been victims, accomplices or both, but never because of their gender, and the driving forces behind Jigsaw and his cohorts have always been either philosophical and spiritual (albeit nonsensical), or borne out of straightforward vengeance.
Neither the best nor the worst of the saga, Jigsaw is a perhaps unnecessary stab at jumpstarting another five or six showcases for cheery torture and screaming: it feels more like a new start than a mere continuation or a retread: as if they know there's no more material to wring out of Tobin Bell's gamesmaster, and any further films could dispense with him entirely now a replacement, albeit a less charismatic one, has been anointed. Personally I'm okay with this: despite (or perhaps because of) their relentless grimness, their pretence at profundity and their eschewing of overt comedy they somehow end up as hilarious and impossible to take too seriously, and I'm more than happy to spend ninety minutes every Halloween watching people dismember and mutilate themselves for the most idiotic of reasons. Grisly fun.