I just finished watching Saw 7. The final chapter in the successful ‘torture porn‘ or ‘gorno’ franchise.
Let me say a few things before I delve into it:
1) I believe that is is good to explore and discussion films with young people. I know young people watch the Saw films. Rather than simply saying, “Don’t watch it”, I want to find ways of exploring the themes and characters of the films and comparing and contrasting them with the themes and characters that we find in the Bible.
2)I’m not saying that God and Jigsaw are the same or that God can even be summed up by a character in a film or story. What I am intending to do is to
make comparisons that help young people explore faith in culture 9and vice versa)
3)These are initial thoughts and have not been critiqued in depth by myself as yet
With those things said, let’s plunge ourselves into the murky and morally bankrupt world of the Saw franchise.
For those unfamiliar with the Saw films and the character of Jigsaw, here is a summarised excerpt from wikipedia:
“Jigsaw, introduced in the series as John Kramer, was a civil engineer dying from an inoperable frontal lobe tumor that had developed from colon cancer. After a failed suicide attempt, Kramer experienced a new respect for his own life and set out to force others through deadly trials to help them appreciate their own lives by testing their will to live through self-sacrifice. The tests were typically symbolic of what Jigsaw perceived as a flaw in each person’s moral character or life. The Jigsaw name was given by the media for his practice of cutting puzzle pieces out of the flesh of those who failed their ordeals and perished, symbolic of their missing survival instincts.”
Two comparisons between Jigsaw and the Christian understanding of God
1) Jigsaw offers salvation to his subjects
2)Jigsaw takes risks.
Let’s look at these in a little more detail.
1)Jigsaw offers salvation to his subjects. That is the crux of his plan. He wants people to be like him. To have a new found respect for life. But to do this they must lose something of their self. They must die to their old ways. You can see where I’m going with this.
Now, let me make clear that I’m not saying God is like this. God, as I understand it, does not put us through horrific trials in order for us to find life. He may use these things that happen to us to weave potential good out of them but that is not the same thing.
Jigsaw wants these people to see the errors of their ways and repent. Only by truly repenting, can they do the things that he asking of them and liberate themselves.
At this time, Christians celebrate Easter. The death and resurrection of God. Rather than us going through torture to find salvation, God goes through the torture. God dies that we might have life. Deeply, deeply humbling.
The cross, like Jigsaw’s torture chamber, is a symbol of hope. It symbolizes the possibility of new life.
2) Jigsaw takes risks. Jigsaws victims might not find salvaation. His efforts may be, in the end, like chasing after the wind. They might not have the strength or the courage to die to themselves. As a result, the Saw films are overflowing with corpses.
It is my belief that God takes risks. He is the ultimate risk taker. On the cross, God gives his life as a ransom for many. His hope is that all will be reconciled to Him through his actions. Whether you hold to universalism, or annihilation or a traditional understanding of Hell, we can all testify to the fact that God took a risk.
And not just on the cross. From the very beginning of time, God has taken risks. the Bible is full of stories of God’s interaction with mankind. It’s full of stories of the risks he takes.
In the end, it is obvious that Jigsaw and the Christian God are not the same. But there are themes in the movie that resonate. That can be explored with young people.
I’m not saying you should get your youth group together and watch a Saw film (although that would be interesting).
But what I am saying is this. Don’t ignore the fact that young people watch these types of film. But on the other hand don’t just say you shouldn’t and leave it at that.
Instead, do what God did and still does. Take a risk. Interact with him. Discuss it with them.
You might be surprised by the results.
- Horror Films: Saw the Final Chapter (moneysupermarket.com)