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ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Jigsaw (2002)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Don Adams, Harry James Picardi

Starring:
Barret Walz/Colin
Aimee Bravo/Tawny
Mia Zifkin/Val
Arthur Simone/Eddie
6 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
For their final exam, a class of art students (five people, including the teacher) are each handed pieces of a mannequin with orders to decorate it as they please. Of course, a shotgun and a buzzsaw wind up as ornaments on the dummy, but hey…it’s not a horror lay without them. Once the mannequin is put together, he comes to life to perform his own brand of finger painting. Class dismissed!
THE LOWDOWN
Once the “Jigsaw" end credits rolled, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the flick. I actually had to ponder over it with a Bacardi and Coke in hand (yup, I’m that guy!). After much thought, here’s what I came up with.

The premise of the film itself was a gnarly one that aimed higher than the norm and I had to admire the film’s ambition to be something more than just another low budget dead “zit popper” entry. For example, the mannequin kills its victims with the ornament that they brought in to decorate him. Since some of the leads contributed items which had very personal connotations to them, they subsequently wound up getting killed by their own demons. DEEP STUFF!!!!! I dug that jive big-time! The heavy character exploration was also quite a ballsy move. For the better and the worse, this 78-minute baby spent 50 of its minutes on buildup. That’s rare in the genre, especially when it comes to low budget horror movies.

Then there was the big surprise of the show: cupcake Tawny played by the talented Aimee Bravo. Let’s face it, the woman is gorgeous and has got a killer body…nice Cowboy hat too! So I figured she’d be the token “eye candy” in the film and that’s that. But behold, the character was taken further and Aimee Bravo actually managed to snag me in with a well delivered dramatic monologue about a childhood trauma. Wow! I didn’t see that coming. Not only was that specific scene extremely well written, it also featured snazzy direction and even tugged at my heartstrings. Sure, the character of Tawny kind of negated the whole downbeat feel by following her dark revelation with a sexy lapdance on the dummy, but hey…what can you do, we all deal with our issues in different ways and I for one wasn’t complaining when that bootie started shaking!

On the downside, some of the dialogue and actors’ deliveries felt "off" at times. That hurt the “deeper” aspects of the narrative and the sympathy factor when it came to the peeps in this show. Since I didn’t truly care about half the cast, it lessened the suspense during the last act. Which brings me to the somewhat underwhelming kills. With all that buildup, I expected the red slosh to fill my screen for the finale. Alas, apart from one gruesome saw mess, most of the damage was done off-screen (due to budgetary reasons, I assume). Lastly, it didn’t help that most of the players didn’t seemed too impressed by the walking mannequin. I’d be flipping out! They also didn’t try hard enough to escape or get rid of him. Ever heard of running circles around the dummy (that mannequin is so slow) or how about jumping in that Mack truck and running his plastic ass over? Fight back you punks!

But in the end, I enjoyed "Jigsaw". It could’ve easily been a simple stalk-and-slash number, but it wound up being much more. Tag to that, polished visuals which were very impressive for a film of its budget and format (it was shot on DV) and you get a rare animal in its low budget realm. Think art film with a body count. Now, what would I bring to my “Jigsaw” dummy? Mmmm…a bottle of Jack perhaps? No…Bacardi? No…Rum? Decisions, decisions…
GORE
It’s not that time of the month. We get some blood spitting, some "off screen" kills, a blade through the chest and even a heart attack. Too dry.
ACTING
Barret Walz (Colin) is one of the better actors here; I bought his slime ball character and then some. Aimee Bravo (Tawny) really surprised me; hot looks + mucho talent = a gem. Nice work! Mia Zifkin (Val) and Maren Lindow (Louise) were both on and off throughout, they often lacked conviction in their delivery. Arthur Simone (Eddie) annoyed the shite out of me. I don’t know what it was about him, he was going for one thing and I don’t feel like he nailed it. But what do I know anyways? James Palmer (Todd) had the right look for the part, but his acting was the weakest of the lot. David Wesley Cooper rocked as “Art” the jealous, wife-beating BF. He was very convincing.
T & A
Although Aimee Bravo (Tawny) doesn’t take it all off, she does show enough to please any hetero sexual man on planet earth. I’m talking cleavage heavy top, some bootie shaking and a priceless “underwear” shot. We also get Mia Zifkin (Val) in her bra/panties and Maren Luinndow sporting a see-through white top. The ladies get Jigsaw and his throbbing shotgun. Enjoy.
DIRECTING
The axis on the visuals, which sometimes came across as “artsy”, gave the flick that extra aura of class. I’m talking filters galore, sharp cinematography and tight shot compositions/angles. The movie is also well edited. Give these guys a bigger budget! They’ll kick all kinds of ass.
SOUNDTRACK
Most of the tunes here were taken from MP3.com by the filmmakers. Well, they got lucky and managed to snag some gnarly rock, country and heavy tunes and even an atmospheric score. Nice! It just goes to show that there’s a lot of undiscovered talent out there.
DVD FEATURES
Distributor: FULL MOON PICTURES and TEMPE ENTERTAINMENT

IMAGE: The Widescreen 16:9 (1.85:1 aspect ratio) image was adequate. No big complaints on my end.

SOUND: The Dolby, Surround Sound also got the job done and at the end of the day, that’s all I asked of it.

EXTRAS:

The Making Of: This 12-minute featurette presents us with the directors bat hunting, some on-set footage, lots of Aimee Bravo (always good) and one hell of an addictive song (that “work-work” song). This feature gave me an idea of how fun it was on set.

Commentary Don Adams & Harry James Picardi and their crew: This somewhat chaotic commentary has a lot of people kicking in, from the crew to the extras to the directors. I think the commentary would’ve benefited from more direction and less peeps in the house. When the directors gave us their insight I was interested, when the crew kicked in, I’d crack open a beer and go ponder my existence.

We also get an extra feature film called TOTEM (~ 70 minutes) and TRAILERS for both films. After watching the TOTEM trailer, I figured I’d skip the flick. My horror “radar” told me to stay away. Watch at your own risk.
BOTTOM LINE
I enjoyed "Jigsaw" and I respected the talent that shined through. The film looked great, the editing was fly and the concept solid. The strong emphasis on the characters might turn some away, the “off” acting might irritate others and the low gore quotient might piss off the rest. But for me, where the film failed, it compensated in its overall "shoot for the stars" attitude. Sure, it didn’t always slam dunk, but the effort was duly noted by this clown. Aimee Bravo’s hot looks and strong acting chops also compensated for a lot. Yes, at the end of the day...I’m a simple man.
BULL'S EYE
Don Adams and Harry James Picardi also wrote and directed "Vengeance of the Dead".
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