And it was not a treat. I do not enjoy the Saw movies, or torture porn in general, and while Jigsaw will probably work for fans of the Saw series, I cannot imagine casual viewers being drawn into the franchise by this movie. Or any movie. There are EIGHT of these. Do we need to be concerned about Saw enthusiasts? I like a lot of dark sh*t and have a high threshold for cinematic pain, but something about torture porn crosses what lines I do have. There is just something deeply unpleasant about films predicated on watching people suffer and die terrible, torturous deaths. It’s Halloween, and it’s time for horror, but I have no idea how a bunch of people being murdered in Rube Goldberg machines is supposed to be scary. Jigsaw is not scary, it’s just ugly and cruel.

The idea of Jigsaw is that maybe the Jigsaw killer is back. As with all of the Saw movies I have seen (2.5), there is a parallel narrative, with victims trapped in the murder game and police trying to save them cross-cut with one another. The victims are forced to play a series of “games” in which they must confess sins or die, and they usually end up dying anyway. The cops just make everything worse and inevitably someone on the outside is linked to the Jigsaw Killer. No one in this movie is recognizable, and no one gives the kind of compelling performance that can turn them into a cult star a la Tobin Bell, who rode Saw to genre stardom like Robert Englund did a generation before.

I will give this to Jigsaw—it brings back Charlie Clouser and his distinctive theme, and Jigsaw looks better than the usual janky-ass Saw aesthetic. The sickly green cast of earlier movies has been thrown off in favor of actual daylight and warm tones, and visually, the improvement is massive. Original Saw director James Wan was still determining his style when he made the first movie—only his second feature—which is why it’s such a mish-mash of things, as he tried almost every trick in the book at least once. Jigsaw director duo Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig—formerly known as The Spierig Brothers but unlike The Duffer Brothers they realized how dumb that is and changed it—have a couple more features under their belt and a better sense of who they are as filmmakers. The stutter-shot action and rapid cutting is gone, and Jigsaw is actually decent looking, for a snuff film.

But good god is it unpleasant to watch. It’s not the gore, which is lovingly splattered and captured by the Spierigs, it’s the gruesome traps and the utter incoherence of the cardboard cutouts moving around where proper characters should be. Is it asking too much for a Saw movie to have coherent character interactions and motivations that track? The first movie may be unpleasant, but it makes sense, and the proselytizing and engineered moral quandaries are meant to provide a thin layer of philosophical meta-meaning that excuses the torture porn as an exercise in culpability. There is even a gallows humor to the thing, in the early going. But Jigsaw has none of that. The moralizing is so obvious and shallow it plays for what it is: An excuse to watch suffering guilt-free. (If that’s what you’re after, visit any mall during the holiday season.)

I can’t recommend this movie. Even if you have the stomach for torture porn, Jigsaw just isn’t good. Apparently it’s not the worst of the Saw lot, but that’s a bar so low it’s buried underground. While it is a stylistic improvement on earlier Saw movies, it has the same unpleasant foundation and questionable intent. Horror movies can help us process real world fears and anxieties, like Get Out and racial tension or The Shining and the masculine fear of domesticity, but Jigsaw isn’t helping us process anything, except our basest destructive desires. And if that’s all you’re after, might I recommend garbage trucks on fire?