More than halfway through!
Saw 5. Five Saw films. Five films. Wow. I am not sure how to start this one. Saw is actually an immensely profitable series (so was Resident Evil, but we don’t talk about that anymore). What is it about these films that is so damn popular?
On the one hand, Saw 5 provides enough twists and turns to be an entertaining film. I have seen it before, but had forgotten most of the ins and outs. In many ways, it was like watching it for the first time (it appears I remember nothing of 6). The torture devices crossed into absurdity a long time ago, but there is still some charm in seeing it all play out.
However, these films are their own worst enemy. Jigsaw is dead, and has been since the end of the third (and fourth) film. It is time to stop including Tobin Bell into the series. We see him handhold Detective Mark Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) into the dark realm of not-murdering people by putting them into impossible to survive traps. The whole “make them appreciate life” shtick was half empty on the first film entry, here it is just ridiculous. “I’ve never killed anyone” muses Jigsaw with an all-too-serious tone. The oddest part about this is there seems to be no hint of irony in these statements. I know I bitched about this in the first review, but at this point they should just call him a devious serial killer and drop all of the moralizing crap.
This time around we follow agent Strahm as he gains evidence on the absurdly and obviously guilty Hoffman. The investigation is interesting—I guess, but we all know the reveal. Once Strahm is certain of his discovery there is no “aha!!” for the audience. Further, the investigation keeps going and going, which does little other than to fill out the running time and also to allow Hoffman to set up Strahm.
Once again, we have three storylines. Hoffman as the little murderer that could. Strahm investigating, but inexplicably not recording or reporting evidence, and five idiots in a chamber of tortures. The first two are predictable, but what about the third?
Our five survivors aren’t exactly likable, and by that I mean they are all obnoxious and I didn’t care about any of them at all. I do wonder how many times I have mentioned this in a horror review, but unlikable characters kill a film. We all already know the odds of more than one of the people in this group surviving are incredibly slim, so why not allow us to root for them? Yes, Jigsaw has to target individuals with questionable morals, but they don’t have to be annoying.
Followers of the series will see nothing surprising here. However, nothing will necessarily annoy them, either. The Saw franchise is impressive in its ability to tread water—each film gives just enough entertainment and is consistent enough to not alienate fans. That previous statement might sound like a backhanded compliment; I did not mean it as such. Statistically (score wise) I am willing to bet this franchise is better for me than the Hellraiser series, and I love the first two of those films. These films aren’t great, but they maintain a baseline level of quality that most franchises simply can’t. 5/10