Movie Review ~ Jigsaw


The Facts
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Synopsis: Bodies are turning up around the city, each having met a uniquely gruesome demise. As the investigation proceeds, evidence points to one suspect: John Kramer, the man known as Jigsaw, who has been dead for ten years.

Stars: Matt Passmore, Callum Keith Rennie, Clé Bennett, Hannah Emily Anderson, Laura Vandervoort, Mandela Van Peebles, Paul Braunstein, Brittany Allen, Josiah Black

Director: Peter Spierig & Michael Spierig

Rated: R

Running Length: 91 minutes

Trailer Review: Here

TMMM Score: (3/10)

Review: The biggest question left by this turgid attempt to reboot the Saw series is “Why”?  Why wait all this time?  The last entry, the now-incorrectly titled Saw 3D: The Final Chapter came out in 2010 and put a rather decent pin in the whole shebang.  Why go back to the well that has long since dried up,  providing no nutritional substance in plot, character, or creativity?  Isn’t it obvious? This is a product from a studio (Lionsgate) desperate to find another dependable franchise to ciphon out money from the pockets of easily enticed moviegoers.  Keeping their tradition of not screening these films for crictics, I was one of those audience members curious enough to venture out the week before Halloween to see how this series would get revived.

I should have stayed home.

The film offers nothing new to add to the mythology of John Kramer (Tobin Bell), the madman that offered a sick kind of redemption to troubled souls.  Placing them in increasingly serpentine traps that were designed to have them inflict pain on themselves or others, Kramer sought to help these people that strayed back to the path of good.  Too bad so many of them wound up literally in pieces along the way.

As Jigsaw opens, Kramer has been gone for ten years but a new game has started that bear his calling card.  The clues left behind all point to Kramer but how can a man dead and buried for a decade be running this new horror show?  The red herrings abound with little logic, most of the time the cops on the case (led by Callum Keith Rennie, Fifty Shades of Grey) point to a suspect that may have looked at them sideways or on some undisclosed second-sight instinct.

Medical examiner Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore) is brought in to help the police figure out the clues but it’s really his plucky assistant Eleanor Bonneville (Hannah Emily Anderson, whose character name is more memorable than her performance) that lasers in on who is responsible for the killing but not necessarily why.  At the same time the experts are tracking the killer and examining mutilated bodies, we bounce back and forth to a deadly game playing out in real-time that is supposed to be feeding us clues but might just be another fake-out that this franchise has been so dastardly in introducing.

The acting by all is terrible (which is pretty par for the course) but the bad performances might be easier to take if anyone (at all) was the least bit invested in what they were doing.  Directed by The Spierig Brothers with little fanfare, I can only hope their next film, Winchester: The House that Ghosts Built, is a more promising endeavor.  This is a puzzle that you don’t need any kind of brainpower to solve, just the willingness to turn it off as you enter the theater.

MIFF Movie Review ~ Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal

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The Facts:

Synopsis: A painter struggling for inspiration finds an unexpected muse after he accepts a teaching position in a small town and becomes the caregiver to Eddie, a seemingly docile art student with a rare sleepwalking condition.

Stars: Thure Lindhardt, Dylan Smith, Georgina Reilly, Alain Goulem, Stephen McHattie, Paul Braunstein

Director: Boris Rodriguez

Rated: NR

Running Length: 90 minutes

TMMM Score: (6/10)

Review:  On the way out of the screening of Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival I overheard a member of a motley crew of teens say “What did we just see?”  Now I’m certain this group was enticed into the late night screening by the wacky title and probably thought they were lining up for a more mainstream horror film experience, but I find myself echoing the sentiment as it applies to this strange mix of horror and comedy.

What we have here is essentially another retelling of the plot from Little Shop of Horrors but transplanted from the gutters of Skid Row to the icy barrenness of a small Canadian town.  Not long after arriving to teach art, artistically blocked painter Lars (the nicely offbeat Lindhardt) finds himself watching over mute man-child Eddie (Smith, excellent) who has some problems adjusting to his new living situation.  The more stressed Eddie is, the more he tends to sleepwalk…and munch of some of the local wildlife.

At first terrified, Lars eventually becomes more and more inspired in his art using the blood and guts from Eddie’s kills to get his creative juices flowing.  He begins to sell more paintings, providing money for the local art school and attracting the attention of a pretty young colleague (Reilly).  What happens, though,  when Eddie gets more comfortable living with Lars and stops sleepwalking/eating…and what will become of some pesky neighbors and their yapping dog?

Director/screenwriter Rodriguez has packed his black comedy with a nice amount of small-town yuks and enough blood to satiate those hungry for some gore but not ready for Evil Dead-style violence.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some very graphic scenes here but it’s all so highly tongue and cheek that many laughs don’t land exactly where they should.

For a 90 minute journey into the tricky waters of bizarre horror comedy, Eddie mostly fits the bill as it lumbers along like the title character.  Lindhardt and Smith are very game leads with Smith taking every advantage of his dialogue-free role to convey much without saying anything.  If you have a taste and tolerance for this type of material, Eddie will be a nice film to absorb into your stable of films but all others should make sure they know what they’re getting into.