Saw V (2008)
By: Julian on October 31, 2008  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Directror: David Hackl
Cast: Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Betsy Russell, Julie Benz
Screenplay: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan
Running Time: 88 minutes
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Saw is one of my favourite English-language horror films of the noughties. Intelligent, upsetting and very black, its unremitting nature made for a refreshing break from the sanitised commercial machine the horror genre had become. And I was pleased with the first two sequels – particularly the second – which foregrounded the original's raison d'être to serve up a seriously jarring twist and some of the most stomach-churning set pieces this side of the Italo-cannibal flick.

The fourth is where the franchise – at this point a tremendously lucrative little venture, turning over in excess of ten times its budget per outing – hit the doldrums. Poor acting and an inherently unimaginative script coupled with overtly sadistic violence made for a nauseous spot of viewing. Saw had now become a name associated with provocateurs given far too much money and far too little time, to say nothing of an unfortunate mass appeal that kept these cretins excreting this sort of rubbish. Thirteen year olds could boast about it in the playground as a test of endurance, while all the cool kids scoffed and returned to chat about the turtle in Cannibal Holocaust.

Which brings us to the fifth film. The nadir, thus far, of the Saw franchise, Saw V (and no body parts left to fashion the Roman numeral) is uninspired, insipid dreck. The first trap is proof positive of this – it was nicked straight from Dario Argento's shock opener of his segment of Two Evil Eyes, almost twenty years earlier. From there it gets worse – the central 'game' has its participants scrambling for keys, electricity and blood or else they'll be blown up by some shoddy-looking backyard nail bombs. For shame!

I'll assume all those reading this have seen the first four, so spoilers for those films commence herein. Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) is revealed as Jigsaw's (Tobin Bell) new apprentice, and he throws Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) into a trap whereby his head is enclosed in a plastic case that fills with water. Although the authorities are coming to the rescue, they're not coming nearly fast enough – with a strategically placed pen, we see some tracheotomy action take place and Strahm gets out, hole-in-throat making him sound suspiciously like Darren Lockyer. This, coupled with a pounding suspicion that Hoffman is a devious bastard, eggs Strahm on and, despite being told to take leave, he raids every police resource and puts the puzzle together. Puzzle, 'cause it's a Jigsaw, like. Haw haw.

Running parallel to this is a trap situation much like that of the second instalment – a quintet of (yep, you guessed it) seemingly unrelated individuals who are forced to work together lest they incur the wrath of Jigsaw, who has whacked down some rigged explosives that'd make the pimply-faced authors of The Anarchist's Cookbook look like government-trained weapons experts. His heart is just not in it anymore.

With a hideously boring sub-plot pertaining to Jigsaw's wife, and a plethora of moronically lazy flashbacks that rival Craven's The Hills Have Eyes Part II in the 'let's get this out, and quick' stakes, there really is little to recommend Saw V. Actually, I'd go as far as to say there's nothing to recommend it. The acting has hit an all-time, rock-bottom low: laugh out loud as you watch the witless participants in the main trap (where the franchise rips itself off) bumble through their lines as if they were picked up off the street. Which is a funny little bit of poetic irony: the ill-advised sixth instalment (don't tell me you didn't see it coming), already greenlit, will pluck one of its roles from the winner of a reality TV show.

The final coup d'ètat against anyone who wants to see some raw horror is grabbing the production designer of the previous three instalments to direct this. David Hackl's approach to directing a film is like letting a bull loose in a china shop. Hackl tries to present some intelligent stuff, sadly based on Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton's bumbling screenplay, but he just comes across as an overly simplistic idiot. The Hack's modus operandi: when you can't convince your audience, confuse the Hell out of them, and mission accomplished. Sheer ineptitude is displayed in directing this, and Hack's should be shot for his decision to degrade his film stock and give Saw V a thooper-cool, pseudo-subversive feel.

I don't think it's unreasonable to say that the twist in Saw V is utter balls. There isn't even the barely-satisfying payoff of the fourth instalment. It's lazy drivel, propagated by lazy capitalists in a franchise that's precariously close to earning the gong of 'most misguided horror franchise ever'.

I could tell you not to waste your money but that would be futile – Saw fans simply must see it. But, like a whiny bitch mother, just know I told you so.
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