7 November 2017 | MaximumMadness
"Saw: Rebirth"- A mildly engaging short that should intrigue franchise fans, even if it has been rendered non-canonical.
Few modern-day horror franchises have made as big a splash as "Saw"- the brainchild of Australian filmmakers James Wan and Leigh Whannell. Since first erupting onto the silver-screen in 2004, the series has grown and expanded almost constantly. Sequels... video-games... toys... clothing... You name it, "Saw" has done it. And around 2005, just in time for the release of "Saw II", a peculiar comic-book prequel was released entitled "Saw: Rebirth", which sought to explain the backstory of the infamous villain of the series. John Kramer, the man also known as "Jigsaw."
The comic was a fascinating one-off story that actually was fairly well drawn and written, with an interesting take on the character. And it was eventually recreated in the form of this animated film, with voice-overs and effects added in to create a more dynamic piece. And on the whole... yeah, it's actually pretty engaging and should serve as an adequate watch for longtime series fans. Though the fact it has subsequently been rendered non-canonical due to ret-cons and re- writes might put off the most hardcore of franchise fanatics.
George Williams supplies the role of John Kramer, here portrayed as an unambitious factory worker whose fear of commitment eventually drives away his significant other. Now alone and stuck in a dead- end rut, John is shaken to the core when he is given the news he is suffering from terminal cancer, and has very little time left. This plants the seeds for his titular rebirth, as we see him slowly transform into the man who will come to be known as the "Jigsaw Killer."
The short is definitely entertaining and manages to hold your attention. At about six minutes in length, it's a perfect bite- sized piece of "Saw" history, and it has a good sense of pacing and structure. It doesn't meander, nor does it rush, and it doles out information in a very deliberate fashion. The dialog and inner monologues are written true to the characters as portrayed in the films, and the artwork is very well-accomplished and detailed. Particular in how they capture and re-create the look of John's live-action actor Tobin Bell.
This unfortunately makes the short all the more frustrating in the places where it falls flat. While the writing and execution are generally well-done, the way the short is animated left something to be desired. It's just a bit too manic. It eschews typical motion- comic aesthetics and has the frames and dialog-boxes zooming, shooting and flying about in different configurations, which can distract from the story. I also felt the voice-acting got a bit hokey as the short entered its second half... it started to feel silly. And of course, there's the fact that the short has been rendered completely non-canonical, which also was the source of some mild irritation. While it fits nicely into the timeline as seen in the first three films, further developments added into the story in later movies completely contradict "Rebirth."
Still, for horror-fans and especially for "Saw" fanatics, it's worth checking out. The good artwork and sharp writing are a nice compliment to the series, and it's intriguing seeing how it fits into the overall history of the franchise. I'm giving "Saw: Rebirth" a pretty good 7 out of 10. If you have the chance to watch it, give it a shot.