Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Saw V (2008)

Although I "saw" it (sorry) in the theater last year, Saw V has the dubious honor of being the first movie I've seen on Blu-ray; and I have to say, the pristine quality Blu-ray boasts definitely enhances the movie-watching experience. The superior video quality emphasizes minor details, such as rust on a pipe, rainfall, and splintered wood, giving the movie a more realistic feel overall. But enough advocating a technology everyone except for me has already experienced! Here's what I think of this fifth installment in the Saw franchise.

We finally get to see what would've happened to our narrator in Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum" had he not had the ingenuity to coerce the rats into eating through his constraints. This opening scene gives Saw fans what they want: an elaborately planned torture mechanism that results in a gruesome, tense death. Yet, there is also a little twist that tips us off to the fact that this is not Jigsaw. So, the checklist for the beginning of a good torture movie is complete. Our tastes for graphic blood and guts are satiated, and we get a nice little hook. And in Blu-ray, the blood and guts are beautifully rendered!

But, unfortunately, Saw V transitions from a brutal opening torture scene to a long, exhausting exposition that revisits each of the previous movies. The effect is far from entertaining. Instead, the constant flashbacks and "clever" twists, intermingled with a linear storyline concerning a group of throwaway characters who all have something in common (bad acting!), loses its appeal and my attention. On top of all the effort spent on plot-thickening, we get short soliloquies by Agent Strahm just in case we, the audience, are too dense to deduct the meaning of the flashbacks. Thanks for the insult.

I don't want to waste my time griping about bad acting--the first Saw movie, which is still my favorite, exhibited some of the worst acting I've ever seen in recent horror film. But I will say that this movie used the tried-and-true solution for excusing terrible acting. The excuse we get for the character whom I consider the worse actor in the movie is that he is a drug addict. Bravo! Got a bad actor or actress, whom you don't want to cut from the film? No problem. Just pawn the inept acting off on drug use or mental deterioration (see my recent remarks on Deadline).

As the flashback/twist-development monotony transitioned into the final scene, I was hopeful for a strong ending to compliment the strong opening. In comparison, however, the movie definitely moved away from cringe-eliciting gore. The cracked ulna (or radius?) is great, but it's nothing compared to the evisceration we get in the beginning. A major disappointment after waiting through the preceding seventy minutes or so. Oh! Wait! It just hit me that there was a nice little gag thrown in when ten pints of blood were required of our captives. Still, it was too late in the movie for me; I was already bored. (Man, have I acquired a pronounced addition to torture or what?)

Now don't get me wrong. I have thoroughly enjoyed the Saw franchise, but this installment was a trifle too anticlimactic for my tastes. I'm hopeful that, since Saw V spent so much time thickening the plot of the entire franchise, Saw VI will be much better (i.e. pure thrills and a single, solid twist; Saw's trademark). Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to see VI in the theater back in October (as I've done with the previous five movies), so I anxiously await its January 26th release.


  1. I enjoyed Saw and the initial sequel, but I've been off the boat since then. I thought 5 was the series low, but 6 didn't offer much either. Nothing worse than a horror film that is didactic without being entertaining. I'll be curious to hear your take on it.

  2. Drats! I haven't heard one positive note concerning VI. Oh well, I'll still watch it and post. Looking forward to House of the Devil in February!

  3. Also, for more immediate viewing pleasure, check out Carriers. Excellent example of how to make the world end.

  4. Just added it to the queue! It will arrive after I return The Hangover and Inglourious Basterds!