Jigsaw — Life
Spanning over eight films and the ninth instalment already in the works, the Saw series is an old adage for torture porn. It seems as if each trap is supposed to be more painful than the one before, mercilessly stabbing its viewers’ conception of flesh and blood. The premises, or better known as “rules”, are the guidelines for the victims to follow. Under their incarceration, a choice has to be made; lose something, or lose life itself. Long after the series ends, those scenes of gore and unimaginable dismemberments stay lodged within the hippocampus. Ugly does not summarize the state that the victims are in, only fear, as audiences ask themselves what they would do in this scenario. A pound of flesh? The Horsepower trap? The reverse bear trap?
Killing is distasteful!
Even after the ordeal of surviving their respective traps, it is hard to shake off the memory of what’s been done to them. Kidnap, potentially assault, and arguably homicide. The question looms forward, who is doing this? And why?
John Kramer, username: Jigsaw, is a regular player in the game of horror villains. In ruthless fashion, he is the recurring antagonist in Saw and its subsequent sequels. An astute man and demented almost-murderer, Jigsaw is (not the) Venus flytrap that ensnares prey in intricate mechanical detail where they, suffer. Unlike most characters in a film series, John does not undergo any of the traditional “character development” and is instead, the end-product when first introduced. In Saw, one of the greatest twist endings in the genre of horror is witnessed, which leaves the franchise to elaborate on his background. In a manner quite like Thanos, from Infinity War and Endgame, his philosophy is put into context to justify his actions, whilst roping in several other characters into the series.
As expanded upon, John’s brilliant engineer mind is hindered by an impossible frontal lobe tumour. Along with other factors, he is driven to suicide, only to fail, in pain. Although he survives the voluntary crash, his impending death sentence is still at large but it does give him a different perspective on life. Over the course of multiple grisly acts, a cryptic message can be derived from that same sea of blood. Light and darkness exist hand in hand, leaving room for John to explore the latter side. Negative experiences are to be equally felt, so those who don’t have the stomach for pain or a threshold for pain merit naught their life. Hence, his genius plan is to kidnap people he subjectively deems morally or personally wrong, and targets that particular flaw. The way he does it is what makes the film series so memorable, through customized metal torture traps, thereby forcing the individuals to face their problem, or let it become their demise. A “game” is what he calls these acts, if the victims do what John himself decides to be necessary to learn the appreciation for life. Technically speaking, it is a straightforward choice, involving psychological torture, maiming others, and worst of all, self-mutilation. According to John, because he understands the goodness of his “games”, it assumes himself to be worthy of testing the will to live, and the fabric holding life together.
It is obvious that John has a complex of some kind, the one that gives him the right to dictate terms of justice. Au fond, there is a belief that the metal is meant to help, rather than harm. It is a radicalized solution for transforming addicts, bullies, rich and poor alike. Again, you can draw comparisons between Jigsaw and Thanos. So what happens if you survive? It is easy to sit back and procrastinate, claim that Jigsaw is playing unfair, trying his darn hardest to kill in the dirtiest way possible. However, the hope of Jigsaw is to see his players escape with a renewed gratitude for life, a lesson learned. His ego is fluttered when Amanda, the first person to successfully escape one of his traps, is verbally thankful for the experience after it happens. (Even though her “game” is relatively the easiest.) To make matters worse for his victims, Amanda goes on to become Jigsaw’s apprentice and sees him as a father figure responsible for saving her life.
Jigsaw does not parade his minimal successes to validate his work, because he genuinely thinks deep down that he is making a difference. Once again, traits similar to Thanos, a vigilante. The magazine that Jigsaw subscribes to is that of libertinage. In political disarrays, the right-wing often sing the importance of facts, not feelings. John is a man governed strictly by reason. Everything he does, is designed in a way that allows that victims to extricate themselves, only by abiding precisely to the rules. Filter out the lens of screaming agony, Jigsaw’s lesson is valuable. The Saw series withdraws emotion and ethics from the guillotine of justice.
I’ve never murdered anyone in my life. The decisions are up to them.
Ask anyone who has experienced loss, they can wholeheartedly agree that human life comes with a cascade of fleeting, mundane moments that are barely registered by the conscious. In every twenty-four hours, so much happens, yet nobody can possibly remember every single detail of the day. Widen that scope, to find that the same no one can remember every moment of their existence. Not every second of existence can establish itself in a memorable context, so the minor parts just fade away into the gaps of the concrete, or vanish into thin air. Cancer kills, something that John is all too familiar with. In recognition of his terminal cancer, John chooses to focus on every moment; a uniqueness. Cast aside those comparisons to Thanos, and John is living the dream everyone wants. Time is precious, yes. Everybody aspires to better treasure their living moments, while thinking about the disappearance of time, an eternity. It is impossibly difficult to label John Kramer a bad man when he upholds such a noble foundation. He is rarely given an opportunity to speak outside of those tape recorders, yet his words have enough authenticity to persuade. His malice is founded on something so organic and wonderful that it deepens his depravity. Intentions so noble yet à la fois his methodology of moral Darwinism is preposterously so barbaric. Barbaric in a way that no one can tell him otherwise, like the compelling villain that he is.