Well it’s Halloween… Saw V

I don’t want this blog to consist entirely of bad horror movie related content, but in an attempt to get out of the house on halloween night I buckled and went to see Saw V.

There are a couple good things to say about the Saw series. The first one was quite clever, and each progressive sequel didn’t fall off in quality at nearly the rate most horror franchises do. That being said, there has been a huge dip in quality. Perhaps the audience is bored of the Saw concept and the series is afraid to innovate… or perhaps they have forgotten what made the Saw series a guilty pleasure to begin with. As always I’ll avoid spoilers as best I can.

Saw V picks up where the collided ending between III and IV left off. It essentially tells two stories at the same time: the story of an agent investigating the jigsaw murders, as well as the story of five new people who find themselves in a series of Saw type challenges. Unlike the other films, which usually end with a bunch of characters rushing to the same location to finally “bring it all together”, these two stories baaarely cross paths at all. 

The Saw traps and challenges are tension, gore, and emotion bottled in an easily consumed panic filled 60 second period. I don’t know why they thought it would be a good idea to focus less on the five characters that are struggling to survive another series of traps in order to put more focus on the (stupid) FBI investigation. In my theater you could hear and feel people tense up during the one story line, and mutter things like “oh come on” when it went back to the other. Because of this, both stories are poorly paced, and the character development is the weakest out of all the Saw films… and that’s saying something.

The last few Saw movies have been extremely inter-textual. Where tiny little details from one film are later explained in another, and so on. This was kind of cool at first, but now they’re going way out of their way to fill in old plot holes that didn’t bother us in the first place. For example, this film shows us how Jigsaw, an old man dying of cancer, was able to get the drop on a 300 pound victim in the first film. The thing is, when we saw the first film… that wasn’t really a concern for us. We don’t need to watch them setting up the traps in the second film, we assume it happened. When we saw the second film we didn’t say “Boy, I sure hope they show us how they did all this stuff in a later installment!” Some of them aren’t even plot holes, but just minor little things that they’re putting in, perhaps in an attempt to convince us that they’ve always had five movies planned from the start. Of course, this isn’t true … and it stinks of a George Lucas-y type move that is trying to “unite the series”. 

So they’ve forgotten how to tell a good story and develop their characters, they’ve forgotten that the emphasis should be on the victims, not the investigators, what else did they get wrong this time? Well… the scares. Historically, the abduction scenes are the scariest scenes, not the traps themselves. Saw V seems to believe that they’re necessary, but just something that needs to be gotten through before we can get on with things. As a consequence, there are little to no scares to be had.

Still, the fans will see it … and they might appreciate it. I even enjoyed the somewhat ho-hum ending of the thing. Although now I’m sure they’ll spend much of Saw VI filling in what we didn’t see in Saw V…


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November 2008
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