Saw V

Director    David Hackl
Starring    Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Scott Patterson, Julie Benz, Meagan Good
Release    24 OCT (US) 24 OCT (UK)    Certificate 18
2 stars


25th October 2008

A Saw movie at Halloween? Whatever next, a Michael Bay movie with explosions? Here we have a horror series that jumped (and tortured) the shark years ago; a fifth instalment of a franchise that shouldn't have been allowed to stumble out of trilogy town - heck, the main character died two movies ago and they're still pumping out the flashbacks and dream sequences. So predictable has the series become, I thought I'd attempt to second-guess Saw V before I'd even seen it. Let's see how much I got right.

Prediction: Jigsaw will speak from beyond the grave via a cryptic voice message recorded before his death that couldn't possibly have predicted the complex sequence of events that transpired over the last few movies.
Well surprise surprise. There's a few pre-recorded Jigsaw messages throughout that magically anticipate how characters will react, but they do cover that angle by having Jigsaw (Bell) - via flashback, of course - telling his protege Detective Hoffman (Mandylor) how "anticipating the human mind leaves nothing to chance." Hmm, okay. Still not buying it though.

Prediction: Faced with a simple yet grisly task of self-mutilation to save their life, a character will instead rant and rave and scream and shout and generally spend the last few seconds of their existence annoying the audience.
The movie actually starts off where Saw IV left off, with Detective Strahm (Patterson) investigating the scene of Jigsaw's latest crime. Caught in a trap, he actually does something incredibly intelligent to escape, so shut my mouth. Elsewhere, mind, there's a gang of irritating no-marks who face a series of grisly group challenges which gives them plenty of chances to squabble and bicker pointlessly. Then die horrible deaths. Nice.

Prediction: One of the death-traps is so devious and complicated there's no way it could have been purchased and constructed without arousing suspicion.
This time around, there's a Edgar Allen Poe-esque swinging pendulum hooked up to a timer, a head-sized box that fills with water and a succession of tasks located in what seems like a sewer system. Some are cool (an early decapitation is always welcome) but some are just plain ridiculous - like filling up a beaker with blood to escape. As the surviving characters traipse through each section, it's like they're taking part in an extreme version of 'I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!' Needless to say, all the gadgets and gizmos would require several million dollars and several years of engineering experience to assemble.

Prediction: A character will be put in a life or death situation for a piffling reason like theft or trespassing - certainly nothing as bad as murder or rape or terrorism.
The group subjected to various tortures in the sewer system are guilty of the most heinous crime of all - city planning bribery. You monsters!

Prediction: A character remarks "Why are you doing this to me?" and the killer replies something along the lines of, "You did this to yourself..."
Yup, there's lots of pointless whining and stating the obvious, particularly from one "trust fund baby" caught up in Jigsaw's evil plan. When he realises he's been responsible for several deaths, his response is simply: "Whoops!" Jigsaw, meanwhile, spools off reels of exposition about how he's really doing society a favour. Yeah, fuck you, Estate Agents Union!

Prediction: A secondary character from a previous movie makes an unnecessary and confusing re-appearance.
If you check out IMDB's cast list, it's got most characters from the series listed. But in actual fact, Danny Glover, Donnie Wahlberg and friends only appear in photographs or flashbacks, which is cheating in my book. The story is a direct continuation from Saw IV, so Cary Elwes does not return to look for his foot (or his career).

Prediction: One of the grimy-looking sets of the previous movies gets re-used (odds - Jigsaw's lair: 2/1, the original Saw bathroom: 4/1, the scene of Eric Matthews' death: evens).
Thanks to some handy flashbacks, we see how Hoffman and Jigsaw meet as we revisit several sets from the old movies, all the way back to the original Saw. All this proves is that the producers can't afford new sets, but it's nice to have a through line through all five movies, no matter how flimsy it may be when held up.

Prediction: I won't believe how it ends. Because they'll leave it open for yet another sequel.
They're not wrapping this thing up just yet. An early scene sees Jigsaw's widow receive a box on receipt of his death. We don't see what's in it and it's likely the director doesn't know either, because they're saving that for Saw VI or Saw X or whenever the hell they feel like stopping printing money. See you next year, I guess. Sigh.

More:  Saw  Horror  Slasher  Sequel  Violence
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